Liverpool will not be making a move for Milan striker Mario Balotelli this summer, manager Brendan Rodgers has disclosed, despite recently voicing his admiration of the player.
The Northern Irishman praised Balotelli over the weekend while on the Reds' tour of the United States but has since left no room for interpretation, saying the Italian will not be a part of his squad this season, per the Mirror's David McDonnell:
I was asked the question about Balotelli and spoke about what a talent he is and excellent player he is. I can categorically tell you that he will not be at Liverpool.
He is a wonderful player, but an AC Milan player. I just gave my opinion of him, but that doesn't mean I will be signing him.
Liverpool are yet to sign an immediate attacking replacement for Luis Suarez, now at Barcelona, with Divock Origi recently joining in a £10 million deal before being loaned back to former club Lille for the 2014-15 campaign.
Balotelli has emerged as a potential departure from the San Siro this summer, but new manager Filippo Inzaghi has previously voiced his desire to work with the former Manchester City bad boy, according to Sky Sports' Nadia Carminati:
I am calm, Mario is an important player and I will try to help him improve. I will reset everything that has been said about him, I have no problem with him. I have to make the most of his ability.
Will he leave? The club will decide. If he leaves then we will need a replacement because the centre-forwards are him and (Giampaolo) Pazzini. However, I believe that he will remain here.
Liverpool signed Rickie Lambert earlier this summer to soften the blow of Suarez's exit somewhat, and the club has failed to score in just one of its six pre-season games thus far.
We Play's Nik Postinger provides the quotes that most likely led speculation to link Liverpool with a move for Balotelli's services:
Brendan Rodgers—"Balotelli has all the qualities. He's 6ft 3, he's quick, his touch is terrific, he can score goals and he's still so young"— Nikolas Postinger (@nikpostinger) August 2, 2014
Rodgers' side is unbeaten in its International Champions Cup campaign, having got the better of Milan, along with Olympiakos and Manchester City, Raheem Sterling netting two of its five goals.
A striker of Suarez's quality doesn't come around often, and the truth is that Liverpool will indeed have to rely upon their midfield to provide a more visceral threat this season if they're to match the 101 Premier League goals scored in 2013-14.
Rodgers will also be looking to Daniel Sturridge to improve upon his fine league form as the club's new leading man, but as beIN Sports reveals, injury has put an early end to the forward's pre-season:
Balotelli was the Rossoneri's top scorer in all competitions last term, grabbing 14 goals in 30 Serie A appearances, per Squawka, as Milan ran to a miserable eighth-place finish in the league.
Do Liverpool need another striker signing?
It's difficult to gauge the 23-year-old's current talents on those numbers, given that Milan have endured an unfortunate period of their history in recent years, with numerous stars at the club slumping in form.
With less than four weeks of the transfer window remaining, Liverpool have but so long to build on the six transfers they've already brought in this summer, if they intend to do so at all.
Rodgers' admission at least gives the club's fans an idea of who they won't be signing this summer, with some undoubtedly rather pleased to know the controversial figure won't be joining their cause.