English Premiership

City boss wishes Mario well

2014-08-22 17:40
Mario Balotelli (AFP)

London - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said Friday that Mario Balotelli could be the "perfect fit" for Liverpool but that the Reds would still miss star striker Luis Suarez.

Liverpool have been reported to be closing in on a £16 million move to bring former City forward Balotelli back to England from Italian giants AC Milan.

Last season, reigning champions City pipped Liverpool to the title by just two points, with Suarez's 31 goals playing a big part in the Merseysiders' push for the Premier League trophy.

However, Suarez left Liverpool for Barcelona in a £75 million move following his four-month ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup in Brazil.

Balotelli earned as many headlines for his often bizarre behaviour during his two and a half years at City as he did for the quality of his play.

But Pellegrini, whose time with City started after Balotelli's return to the forward's native Italy, said there was no reason why the striker could not succeed at Anfield.

"They will always miss Luis Suarez because he is a very important player but they have brought a lot of important new players and continue being a very strong squad also," said Pellegrimi ahead of City's first meeting with Liverpool this season at Eastlands on Monday.

"I think Mario Balotelli is a very good player. He went here from Manchester City to Italy but I think he can play everywhere he wants.

"I know the character of Mario Balotelli -- everyone that is involved in football knows about him.

"If Liverpool decide he is the player that is important for them, perfect for them and perfect for Mario."

But Liverpool's failure to wrap up a deal for Balotteli before 12:00pm UK local time (1100GMT) on Friday meant he could not face City on Monday.

Liverpool won the clubs' most recent meeting, at Anfield in April, but City recovered to take the title.

"We are just starting this season -- last season for us is finished. We are not thinking any more about what happened last season," said Pellegrini, whose side won 2-0 away to Newcastle United during last week's opening weekend of the new campaign.

"Different games, different moments. It is very important to start winning our points at home."

Pellegrini said matches against other title contenders would prove particularly important and was worried by a lack of fitness among some of his key players.

"I always say to the players that (these) games are games of six points -- especially when you play at home with the most important squads of the Premier League such as Liverpool or Arsenal or Chelsea.

"It is important for us as we are just starting the season and maybe we don't have our whole squad in the best fitness moment, but I think this week we have worked very hard and very well, so I hope we can do a very good game and win the three points."

City's recent 32million signing, French defender Eliaquim Mangala, remains unlikely to play against Liverpool as he gains match fitness after only arriving last week.

Sergio Aguero, a goalscoring substitute against Newcastle, may not be ready to start while other players involved in the World Cup have yet to regain full fitness.

"Pablo (Zabaleta) and Bacary Sagna -- and (Vincent) Kompany, (Martin) Demichelis and Fernandinho, who already played - all of them will be not 100 percent, but ready," said Pellegrini.

The Chilean manager added striker Alvaro Negredo, out with a broken metatarsal until October, may be omitted from City's Champions League squad.

City are only allowed 16 foreign players in a reduced 21-man squad this season as punishment for breaching European football governing body UEFA's financial fair play regulations.

"When we have to give the squad of the Champions League, we will decide which player we must leave off the list. We will see how his injury goes," Pellegrini said.


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