Brendan Rodgers has said he found it “very, very difficult to connect” with Mario Balotelli after the striker labelled his former Liverpool manager’s player management skills were “disastrous.”
Balotelli, 26, made the claim in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport in which he spoke of the best and worst coaches he has worked under, adding he would have liked Jurgen Klopp to have given him more of a chance.
“Klopp was not [my worst],” Balotelli said. “I’ve got nothing against him. A situation had been created at Liverpool and maybe he should have had more patience with me.
“In reality, the biggest disappointment I have had was with Rodgers. I had fun with him in training, but he was disastrous when it came to his relationship with his players. For me the most capable remains [former Manchester City boss Roberto] Mancini. He’s fantastic and I owe him everything.
“In second place, I would put [Nice coach Lucien] Favre together with [Jose] Mourinho. The Portuguese is great at motivating you, it’s just a pity that we fell out at a certain point.”
When asked about Balotelli’s comments, Rodgers told talkSPORT: “I just couldn’t really connect with Mario. He was one that came in very late in the window for us. We had lost Luis [Suarez] and it was a gamble taken from a club perspective.
“It was one where, he’s a big talent, and we thought, well, can he come in and develop — he’s got all the tools.
“In all fairness, I just found it very difficult to connect with Mario. On the field, he tried his best. It certainly wasn’t something that worked out as everyone have would liked.
“When you sit with him in the office, he is actually a good fella, a good guy. It is just translating it from there and putting it on the training field. That is something that has been difficult throughout his career.
“If he could ever just match that intensity with his talent, then he would no doubt be one of the best players in the world.
“He’s probably now got a final chance over in France and hopefully he can work at the talent he has, because he is a huge talent.”
Balotelli was also close to falling out with AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, although he said he managed to hold himself back.
“It’s difficult to make comparisons, but when I made my Inter debut, I was only a lad and the president [Massimo Moratti] was following me with affection and I have got to pay tribute to him for this.
“With Berlusconi, it was more of a professional relationship. At times, he would come out with some things which were unfortunate, but I never answered back to him and I won’t do that now either.”
Balotelli has learnt not to speak out of turn and he was once again diplomatic about his chances of making a return to the Italy squad in the near future. He had hoped to be called up to Giampiero Ventura’s latest squad, but will now have to wait until March.
“Like I’ve already said, I’m just waiting for the right moment,” he said. “If the coach has not called me up now, it’s because somebody else deserves a place more than I do right now. I’m more serene about it now. For somebody who acts on instincts like I do, it’s best just not to think about certain things. I know that when Mario is in form, he always plays.”
Balotelli also said Marco Verratti is as good as Italy legend Andrea Pirlo and makes other nations jealous of the Azzurri.
Balotelli was at the San Siro in Milan on Tuesday to watch Italy’s goalless draw with Germany, a game in which Verratti, 24, was an unused substitute.
“I don’t want to put pressure on anyone,” Balotelli said. “But I know that the national team already has a player on which it can rely and that everyone is jealous of us because of him: Marco Verratti. He’s as good as Pirlo in fact, for some things …”
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