In Brief

Rodgers hints that Balotelli is not wanted at Liverpool

Manager's comments come a day after striker is described as 'sincere and honest' by the FA

A day after the FA praised Mario Balotelli for his "sincere and honest" response to being charged with racism, his manager Brendan Rodgers appeared to indicate that the player's future at Liverpool is in doubt.

Speaking ahead of Liverpool's Boxing Day clash against Burnley, Rodgers said that the Italian striker would be fit after several weeks out with a groin strain before admitting that the Reds' style of play "isn't really his game".

Rodgers explained that he wanted his side to use "real aggressive pressure [which] gives us the platform to dominate the ball", but he added: "Working with Mario we see someone who is better in and around the box so that level of intensity and pressing isn't part of his game."

Liverpool have struggled so far this season but have looked a better team in recent weeks, without Balotelli in the ranks, and the Daily Mirror says Rodgers's comments appear to leave the Italian "hanging out to dry".

The manager "was pretty clear that his Reds side are rediscovering their confidence and look better recently, playing an aggressive style, hassling and harrying opponents to make mistakes," says the paper. And his comments about Balotelli make it clear the player "doesn't fit".

The Mirror suggests that Rodgers's comments could also be a veiled message to the Liverpool hierarchy that he alone should be in charge of player recruitment.

While Balotelli has not had much success on the pitch during his time at Anfield, there have been some signs that he might be maturing as a person.

His only brush with authority since arriving on Merseyside has involved an anti-racist instagram post that was itself racist. Although he was banned for one match Balotelli was praised by the FA this week for his "sincere and honest" response to the charge, reports the Daily Telegraph.

His "forceful mitigation", which contained details of the racist abuse he himself had suffered as a player, helped reduce the sanction to a one-match ban.

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