Mario Balotelli: Liverpool striker on last chance - Brendan Rodgers

By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Etihad Stadium
Balotelli risk worth taking - Rodgers

Mario Balotelli is on his "last chance" after joining Liverpool for £16m, says Reds manager Brendan Rodgers.

The 24-year-old Italy striker watched Liverpool's 3-1 loss at former club Manchester City on Monday after moving from AC Milan on a three-year deal.

Balotelli courted controversy at City but while Rodgers admits the signing is a "calculated risk" he says he can curb his "flaws".

"We can improve him as a player and help him mature," he said.

"He's a very bright boy. He was very clever. He understood where he's at, at this stage of his career, and he knows himself that this is probably his last chance.

"Time will tell. Of course it is a risk. I am not going to say it wasn't but he knows he needs to fit into our culture.

"There are no big egos or 'Big-time Charlies' in our squad. We have got to the Champions League because we are a team.

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli scored for Italy against England in the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil

Liverpool, who finished second in the Premier League in 2013-14, two points behind champions Manchester City, sold 31-goal top scorer Luis Suarez for a reported £75m to Barcelona in the summer.

Balotelli, a scorer against England in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, had a controversial two-and-a-half-year spell at Etihad Stadium before joining AC Milan for £19m in January 2013.

During his time in England he helped City win their first Premier League title in 44 years and scored 30 goals in 80 games in all competitions.

However, he was also sent off four times and was pictured having a training-ground argument with then manager Roberto Mancini just before his transfer to Italy.

Mario Balotelli & Roberto Mancini's training ground bust-up

Rodgers admitted he had not consulted the temperamental star's former managers, saying: "I didn't because if I'd spoken to too many people you would have got all sorts of stories about him.

"I know what we are getting. It is a calculated risk, but I have been very encouraged by the man himself. He knows his flaws and faults and he's looking for someone to help him and there is no better club than Liverpool.

"There is excitement with him coming in. As a coach I'm really looking forward to working with him.

"He has that self belief and football arrogance on the field. Luis Suarez has gone, he was a wonderful talent but now we have to look to the future and hopefully Mario can contribute to what we are doing."

Mario Balotelli's Manchester City controversies
November 2010 - After scoring twice against West Brom, he is then sent off in only his fourth game for Manchester City. He is dismissed another three times while with the club.March 2011 - His reputation as a troublemaker only increased after it emerged that he had thrown a dart at a Man City youth-team player. No-one was hurt in the incident at the club's training ground.
October 2011 - Firefighters were called in the early hours one morning because a firework had set fire to a curtain in Balotelli's bathroom, sending smoke billowing through the house.January 2013 - After a bad tackle on team-mate Scott Sinclair in training, City coach Roberto Mancini grabbed Balotelli's bib in frustration and the pair had to be separated.

Match of the Day 2 Extra pundit Kevin Kilbane believes Rodgers will manage Balotelli well and Liverpool fans will see instant results from their new signing.

"Mario is an impact player, will make a difference straight away and might be what Liverpool need," said ex-Everton winger Kilbane.

"Brendan Rodgers had to nurture dysfunctional kids when he was at Chelsea.

"There were question marks over Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling when they went in at Liverpool and look where they are now."