Rodgers: Balotelli a 'calculated risk'
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted after his team's 3-1 loss to Manchester City that he has taken a risk by bringing Italy striker Mario Balotelli into his settled dressing room.
Balotelli completed his 16 million-pound move to Liverpool on Monday and was in attendance for the loss vs. Man City. Rodgers believes the capture of the striker, who arrives with a reputation for being a somewhat disruptive influence, is a gamble. But he says it is one worth taking on a player he believes has matured.
"There is no doubt there is a risk with it, but it's a calculated risk," Rodgers told Sky Sports. "I have been able to assess what we have got as a team and the type of characters we have got. It is because of that environment that leads me to bring him in.
"I've been very [impressed] by the man himself because he is very honest. He knows his flaws and he is looking for someone to help him with it. He has already sampled how we work as a team and a club. Of course it was a risk. We are not going to say it isn't. He is a big talent.
The Northern Irishman is confident Balotelli won't destabilise the Liverpool dressing room, adding: "I don't have any concerns at all. It's that culture that has allowed me to have confidence that if he comes in it won't be affected.
"I'm hoping that with the environment and culture we have created at this club, that he will embrace that and he will benefit from it.
"All my life I have given players an opportunity and this is a guy who when I looked in his eye I could tell. He is 24 years of age and he has become a father now. He knows he has a responsibility, not only for himself, but for this great club.
"We will treat him no different to anyone else. There is a lot of hype that goes around Mario, but for us he is part of our team and we are looking to work and develop that side of him."
Rodgers went on to suggest his decision to move for Balotelli was due in part to the limited options he had at his disposal in the transfer market a week before the September 1 deadline. But he believes the striker signed from AC Milan has the ability to add to the striking options in his ranks.
"He is clearly a world-class talent," added the Liverpool boss. "It has obviously been difficult for him at other clubs, but I have read people saying this is a make or break decision for me. I have done this all my life, I've taken players that people have wrote off and they have performed well.
"With Mario, the market was very limited with what we could bring in. The business was very good for us and we will see if it works. If not, at least we have tried."