Premier League: Mario Balotelli can become a Liverpool star, says Steven Gerrard
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 31/08/14 9:52am
Steven Gerrard insists the stage is set for Mario Balotelli to become a star at Liverpool - now it is up to him to take his chance.
The Italy striker, 24, is set to make his debut at Tottenham this weekend, live on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday, and complete a sensational return to the Premier League after two years at AC Milan.
Reds captain Gerrard admits they have had to make adjustments in the dressing room to welcome Balotelli – known for his eccentric and sometimes controversial character on and off the pitch.
But Gerrard says the club will support his every need and provide him with a platform to become their next goalscoring talisman.
“What about Mario? Does he want to grab it? Does he want to become a star at Liverpool?,” Gerrard questioned in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News HQ.
“The support is waiting to get behind him and push him and it’s all about whether he wants it or not. I believe he’s capable.
“We know what type of character he is and that needs a bit of support, but he belongs to us now so it’s up to me, the players and the staff to look after him and make sure we give him a platform to perform.
“We’ve not had too much of his character yet – only a few minor changes in the dressing room, like the music changing and a few little alterations we’ve had to make. But we’re fine (with the way he is).
“I’m looking forward to seeing what reaction he gets from the Liverpool supporters because, for me, they’re the best in the world.”
Liverpool have endured a sluggish start to the season so far, scraping a narrow win at home to Southampton on the opening day before losing 3-1 at Manchester City last weekend.
And Gerrard said: “It’s going to be very difficult to improve on last season because if we do we’ll be champions.
“Last season we were terrific consistency wise, we had a small group of players and we were on a wave of confidence and belief. But it’s gone now. We’ve got to move on.
“The problem is; everyone else has brought really well. The league is going to be a lot more difficult to compete in this year.”
“But I believe we will compete and be up there come the end and that’s because the manager has bought well. I think we’ll get stronger as the season goes on again.”
Tottenham v Liverpool is live on Sky Sports 1HD from 12.30pm on Sunday.