1. ITV Report

Rodgers: Balotelli's a risk, but one worth taking

Mario Balotelli in training for AC Milan ahead of his move to Liverpool. Photo: PA

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has indicated he sees signing Mario Balotelli as a risk but one worth taking.

With the Reds having reportedly agreed a £16million fee with AC Milan for Balotelli, the mercurial Italy striker arrived in England yesterday afternoon ahead of a medical and was subsequently pictured at the Merseyside outfit's training ground.

It is understood a key aspect of the discussions Liverpool have had with Balotelli and his representatives has been the club seeking assurances about the 24-year-old's behaviour.

Rodgers, who looks set for a remarkable about-turn after insisting around three weeks ago that he "categorically" would not be signing Balotelli, was unwilling to talk about him specifically on Friday at his press conference to preview Monday's Barclays Premier League clash with the frontman's former employers Manchester City.

Asked directly about Balotelli, Rodgers said with a smile: "I can categorically tell you... that I can't speak about it until the player is signed."

But he did speak about the "extensive code of conduct" at Liverpool, before expressing his "complete confidence" that any player he recruits for the club will not be a disruptive influence.

He then added: "We understand that sometimes you have to take a risk with people. A lot of the time, if you take that risk you can get a reward for it." Balotelli is a proven performer, but the baggage that comes with him is considerable.

His two-and-a-half-year spell with City to January 2013 was a whirlwind one, with occasional sparkling performances interspersed with volatility on the field and erratic behaviour off it.

Speaking on Friday about the standards of behaviour expected at Liverpool and his determination to protect them, Rodgers suggested Balotelli will be subject not to special rules but the same disciplinary guidelines as everyone else at the club if his transfer goes through.

"We have quite an extensive code of conduct for players and staff - there is no specific one for any one individual," said Rodgers, who has been looking to bring in a striker following Luis Suarez's departure.

"We have a fantastic environment here and a great culture, and I think it is something that was very important for us to create and build here.

"There will be nothing that will ever shake that or provoke it in any way. It is something I always protect at the club.

"With every player we assess and look at, of course, character is very important and no player would come here if I felt it couldn't work.

"If I feel someone cares enough, I will give them everything, and thankfully we have a culture here that creates talents and gives them the opportunity to blossom."

Balotelli will not be able to feature against his old club in Monday's contest at the Etihad Stadium as his proposed transfer needed to have been completed by midday on Friday for him to be eligible, but there could be debuts for summer signings Lazar Markovic and Alberto Moreno.