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Rodgers rejects Balotelli but says striker signing 'crucial'

ESPN staff
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Mario Balotelli was praised by Brendan Rodgers last week © PA Photos
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Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says it is "crucial" that the club add a new striker to the squad in the transfer window.

But despite losing Luis Suarez to Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge flying home from their pre-season tour to the US with a hamstring injury, he has insisted Mario Balotelli will not be moving to Anfield this summer.

Liverpool saw a move for Queens Park Rangers' Loic Remy collapse after his medical and have been linked with Swansea's Wilfried Bony as well as Balotelli, who is reportedly surplus to requirements at AC Milan.

Asked if the injury to Sturridge - which he is expected to overcome before the start of the season - underlined the importance of adding a new striker, Rodgers said: Yes. It's crucial for us."

Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the striker. Rickie Lambert has already been brought in from Southampton but another signing is high on the agenda.

"I can categorically tell you Balotelli will not be at Liverpool,'' Rodgers said. "In my last press conference I was asked a question about Balotelli and I talked about what a talent he was and what an excellent player he was. And the next day it was wrote as if we were signing him, which doesn't surprise me.

"I just gave my perception of him as a player. It shouldn't be transmitted in to us signing the player.''

Rodgers has used the £75 million he received for Suarez to fund the signings of Lambert, Divock Origi, Emre Can, Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren and Lazar Markovic.

He said: "We still have a few bits and pieces we would like to do to solidify the group, but there's no names or definite signings yet."

Rodgers believes that bringing in three players from Southampton - Lambert, Lallana and Lovren - could make all of his new faces gel quicker.

"The advantage of taking them is that they understand how we work," Rodgers said. "All the players we have brought in were done so because of their profile.

"Southampton played in a really offensive, aggressive way and the players that have come in will adapt that little bit quicker to that.

"There are obviously pressures. If you're playing for Liverpool, there's a different adaptation altogether, but in terms of the football style, that will make it easier.

"If you have three players coming in from the same club, of course it always helps on that first day walking into the changing room. Ultimately they'll gain respect because they're good players, and that's why they're at Liverpool. Hopefully they can show that over their career here."

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