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Balotelli limited to supporting role against Man City

ESPN staff
August 25, 2014 « Southampton make bid for Tottenham's Townsend | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Mario Balotelli is close to completing a £16m move from AC Milan to Liverpool © Getty Images
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Prospective Liverpool signing Mario Balotelli will be at the Etihad Stadium on Monday night as his new side face his old club Manchester City - but only as an interested spectator.

Balotelli is close to completing a £16 million move from AC Milan to Liverpool as manager Brendan Rodgers seeks to bolster his attacking options before the close of the transfer window.

The deal is pending some final paperwork but could be completed before kick-off at the Etihad. However, with Balotelli not even having trained with the Liverpool squad yet, he will be no more than a spectator in Manchester. Liverpool will, though, have £20m signing Lazar Markovic available after his recovery from injury.

With Liverpool also facing a return to the Champions League group stages this season, and having sold player of the year Luis Suarez to Barcelona this summer, Balotelli will bring a much-needed X-factor to Rodgers' squad.

The manager believes Balotelli will bring the best out of Daniel Sturridge, who formed such a potent partnership with Suarez last season, while also providing a strong option in the event of injury to Sturridge.

"The dynamics are important but I don't worry because if you are a top player with a top mind then you want other top players," said Rodgers. "If you are a top player and looking at another top player coming in then you will be thinking, 'He can help us.' A top player with a top mentality responds to the competition.

"We can also play a diamond. We played that eight times last year and won seven, and we flipped to that against Southampton [a 2-1 victory in their first Premier League match of the season]. We can change systems and I need that flexibility.

"Also, if you look at Daniel's injury record, then he has missed a number of weeks through being injured. I need to ensure I have got the replacements if they are not on the pitch at the same time."

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