Mario Balotelli: Liverpool striker misses start of pre-season

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli
Balotelli scored only one Premier League goal last season

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has not returned to the club for pre-season having been granted compassionate leave after a family bereavement.

The Reds' players returned on Monday after their summer break.

"Thanks everyone for the support. I really want to thank everybody. My family thanks all of you too," said Italy international Balotelli.

The 24-year-old could join up with the squad at the weekend when they leave to tour the Far East and Australia.

The former Manchester City forward struggled in his debut season at Anfield after arriving for £16m in August.

He scored four goals, just one in the Premier League, as he failed to earn a regular first-team spot, despite the sale of Uruguay international Luis Suarez and England striker Daniel Sturridge's injury problems.

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