The coach has claimed that the striker had never had to do defensive duties on set pieces in his entire career before joining up with the Reds
Mario Balotelli had never marked for a defensive corner in his life before joining Liverpool this week, according to his new manager Brendan Rodgers.
The Italian returned to the Premier League, having left Manchester City 20 months ago, in a €20 million move from AC Milan this week and made his debut in his new club’s 3-0 thrashing of Tottenham on Sunday.
Although he failed to score – and his shooting was certainly rusty – he put in a lively performance at White Hart Lane and Rodgers was elated with Balotelli’s efforts, revealing that he is giving the 24-year-old more responsibility in a bid to maximise the striker’s talent.
“I thought the two boys up front with Raheem in behind worked really well,” the Northern Irishman told reporters after the game.
“He was very good. I think you all saw Mario’s workrate, pressing and effort out there today. He was disappointed not to score.
“He’s a good guy and a good man. If you take away the circus around him, control the background noise and get him to solely focus on football, you can see his quality.
“It’s the first time ever he’s marked at a corner. I’m being serious – and he’s an international player. We were working on corners in training and he said ‘I’ve not marked at a corner before’. I said ‘you do now’. You need to treat him as an adult.”
Liverpool sit fifth in the Premier League after three games, having won two and lost one, as they look to go one better than last season’s second-place finish.