In Brief

Balotelli unveils Liverpool hair tribute ahead of Everton derby

Italian set to lead the line, but can he produce training ground form at Anfield?

Mario Balotelli is set to lead the line for Liverpool in his first Merseyside derby this weekend, and invetiably the Italian striker finds himself centre of attention in the build-up.

With Daniel Sturridge likely to miss the game through injury, Balotelli should get the chance to impress the Kop in one of Anfield's biggest games of the season. Expectations will be high as Balotelli seems to enjoy the atmosphere of derby games.

In 2011 the then Man City player unveiled his infamous Why Always Me T-shirt after scoring against Man United and has already made his mark on Merseyside by having a Liver bird pattern shaved into his head before Saturday's derby clash.

He showcased the style on Instagram, with the caption: "Do you see what iI mean?"

However, Liverpool need the Italian to make a few headlines for his on-field exploits.

"Balotelli's form has been indifferent since his £16m arrival from AC Milan," says the Daily Telegraph. "[And] the onus is on Balotelli to raise his game."

Manger Brendan Rodgers has tried to dampen expectations of the combustible 24-year-old. He believes that although "Balotelli has the potential to become a world-class striker [he] has a long way to go to reach Luis Suarez's level," explains the paper.

Rodgers described the Italian as "potentially world-class" but said he had to play "at the highest level consistently".

Not everyone agrees. QPR Twitter controversialist Joey Barton described Balotelli as the the "biggest myth in world football" this week, while Barton's manager Harry Redknapp took issue with a tweet from Balotelli poking fun at Man United after their defeat to Leicester.

Balotelli? He is the biggest myth in World football the fella. Fair play to him he's had everyones trolleys down...

— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) September 23, 2014

But Metro notes that Balotelli has been looking sharp in training, and after watching him score an impressive free kick it suggests "the striker could just be about to explode on to the scene this weekend".

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