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Balotelli: All he needs is love

PALS: Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo (left)

JUVENTUS AND Italy star Andrea Pirlo believes that all Mario Balotelli needs is an arm round the shoulder from boss Liverpool Brendan Rodgers in order for the striker to improve his lacklustre performances.

Balotelli returned to the Premier League back in August after signing for Merseyside club from AC Milan for a fee of £16 million. However, he has failed to deliver on the field and has yet to register a top flight goal.

But his international team-mate, the respected Pirlo, is of the opinion that the best is yet to come from the 24-year-old.

Pirlo said: "There is no question over his talent - I have played with him and I know how good he is and how good he can be. It is the job of the Liverpool coach to manage him in the right way.

"He needs to be loved, he needs direction, but most importantly he needs to know that the coach believes in him, if he spends time with Mario - I know he can still go on and be a great player for Liverpool."

The misfiring Italian has been linked with a move back to Italy with reports that Napoli want to acquire his signature for around £10 million.

Napoli boss Rafa Benitez is said to be a fan of Balotelli's and is reported to be willing to take a chance and bring him back to his birth place in January.

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