• Premier League

Balotelli won't disrupt Liverpool camp

ESPN staff
August 22, 2014
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Brendan Rodgers insists no player will be allowed to disrupt Liverpool's team spirit as he prepares to sign Mario Balotelli.

The striker has arrived on Merseyside for a medical after the club agreed a £16 million fee with AC Milan on Thursday.

However, Liverpool have sought assurances about the behaviour of Balotelli, who has been involved in a series of controversies on and off the field during his career. The Italy international will have clauses in his contract that will bring financial penalties if he fails to behave himself at Anfield.

Rodgers refused to be drawn on the details of the contract on Friday and was reluctant to discuss Balotelli at all with the deal not yet complete.

"I can categorically tell you that I can't speak about it until the player's signed," Rodgers said. However, the manager is adamant that he would not target a player if he felt they would rock the boat.

"We've got a fantastic environment here and a great culture," he said. "Over the last two years, it's been something that has been very important for us to create and build here. "There'll be nothing that will ever shake that or provoke it in anyway. That's something I will always protect at the club."

Rodgers, who made his name as a youth coach at Chelsea before moving into senior management, believes that he has the ability to nurture young talent such as Balotelli.

The manager said: "With every player we assess and look at, character is very important. So no player would come in here if I felt it couldn't work. I don't just look at players, I look at people. I think if I can help the person, then it's something I will look at.

"If you assess my coaching career from when I was a youth coach, it's all I've ever done. People who know me well will tell you that I look to try to develop the player and the person.

"That's something that's always very important to me. If I feel that someone cares enough, I will give them everything.

"We have a culture here that creates talents and gives them the opportunity to blossom. I think I've shown before that nothing will ever stand in the way of that.

"As long as a player shows they care, that they want to learn and want to develop, we can give them the opportunity to do that."

Liverpool began their Premier League season with a 2-1 win over Southampton last Sunday and will aim to build on that when they visit champions Manchester City on Monday.

Summer signing Lazar Markovic could make his debut after recovering from a pre-season tendon injury, while left-back Alberto Moreno is eligible after missing the Southampton win because his move from Sevilla was not completed in time.

Former Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana, who injured his knee in pre-season, is also close to a return.

Rodgers said: "Markovic will come into the squad. He's been excellent in training. He's worked really hard to come back. Adam Lallana is in the latter stages of his rehabilitation. He'll be in the group, although he won't be in the squad for Monday.

"He's doing ball work. He's been with our conditioning coaches, so he'll train with the team on Sunday. He's looking in great condition, so we've just got to get him up to match speed."

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