English Premiership

Balotelli glad to be back

2014-08-25 20:13
Mario Balotelli (Getty Images)

Liverpool - Mario Balotelli has admitted he was glad to be back in the Premier League after the controversial Italy striker completed his £16 million move to Liverpool on Monday.

Balotelli left England in January 2013 after a series of problems on and off the field prompted Manchester City to sell him to AC Milan.

The 24-year-old had grown weary of his reputation as a bad-boy and believed a return home to Italy, where he had previously starred for Inter Milan, would get his career back on track.

But he endured a difficult spell with Milan and was subjected to racial abuse from opposing fans.

After sealing his switch to Anfield on a three-year £90 000-a-week contract, which includes an option for a further year's extension, Balotelli conceded he had been wrong to ever leave England.

"I'm happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake. I wanted to go to Italy but I realised it was a mistake," Balotelli told Liverpool's website.

"English football is generally better. English football is beautiful."

With his future now lying on Merseyside, Balotelli, who won the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010, has ambitions of repeating that feat with Liverpool on the Reds' return to Europe's elite club competition this season.

"I want to win another Champions League for sure, because the Champions League wasn't all mine, I was in a team," he said.

"I always start a competition wanting to win it. I want to take this team to the Champions League."

Balotelli suffered a hostile reception from Liverpool fans during his visits to Anfield while with City, but he has already been given a warm welcome by supporters who gathered outside the club's training ground to catch a glimpse of the striker.

"I didn't expect it (the warm reception) because whenever I played against Liverpool, the fans weren't nice with me but that's normal - it's football!" Balotelli said.

"Now that I play for Liverpool, I can see the expectation in people. They're very happy and that makes me very happy at the same time.

"To play here for Liverpool excites me, but if you're an opponent it's difficult.

"Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England. The football is very good here. It's a great team with young players, and that's why I came here."

Balotelli is not eligible to feature against his old club City in Monday's Premier League clash, but he could travel to Manchester to watch the match after completing a one-on-one training session with the Reds' head of conditioning and fitness Ryland Morgans at the club's Melwood base.

His arrival on Merseyside represents a major gamble given his troubled reputation during a chaotic career which has included spells with Inter Milan, City and AC Milan.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is believed to have asked for the player's contract to include strict clauses about his behaviour on and off the pitch.

But the desire to land a top-class replacement for Luis Suarez, who was sold to Barcelona before the start of the season, persuaded Rodgers to sanction the deal for Balotelli, who won the Premier League and FA Cup during his time at City and also lifted the Italian title three times with Inter.

"This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here," Rodgers said.

"There is no doubting Mario's ability; he is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level.

"He has scored goals in the Premier League, in Italy, in the Champions League and for his country at international level.

"I believe we have the infrastructure, culture and environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential.

"We are a strong group here, committed to hard work and he will benefit from being around it.

"I am looking forward to working with him and helping him learn more, improve and progress as a player."


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