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Balotelli says Gerrard is as good as Pirlo

Mario Balotelli has compared Liverpool Skipper Steven Gerrard to Andrea Pirlo Credit: PA

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli says skipper Steven Gerrard is on a par with Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

Balotelli has played alongside Pirlo in the Italian national team and believes his the former England captain is comparable to the Juventus man.

Gerrard is an amazing player. I had really not seen much of him before this season, apart from for England, but wow. I think of him as being at the same level as Pirlo,"

"Vision, technique, but he is powerful as well. Stevie can do anything. It’s going to be very difficult for the team to find another player like him in the future.”

– Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC, speaking to Sport Magazine.


Lallana's Champions League dream

Adam Lallana Credit: PA

Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana is fulfilling a childhood dream by finally playing in the Champions League.

The 26-year-old is in line for his second start having played for just over an hour in the Reds' late victory over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets last month and - after missing the start of the season with a knee injury - is now looking for game time to get up to speed with his team-mates.

"I've always dreamt about playing in this competition as a kid," said the £25million summer signing from Southampton ahead of their Group B match in Basle.

"I feel I am more or less there (on fitness). I knew it was going to be tough, I am just delighted to be back playing for such a fantastic club.

"I think it gives you more game opportunities to get up to speed, to knit with the group and your new team-mates.

"It is obviously a tough competition and there is no easy game but, to take the positives out of it, it is another game."

– Adam Lallana

Manager Brendan Rodgers will be hoping for a good performance from Lallana against Basle, with England striker Daniel Sturridge not yet fit to return from a thigh strain.

The Swiss side have begun their season with seven wins in 10 league matches, although they were over-run by Real Madrid 5-1 in their opening Champions League match.

Liverpool return to the scene of one of their embarrassing Champions League exits as Basle's St Jakob Park was the venue in 2002 for their 3-3 draw - having been held 1-1 at home - which saw them exit the group stages.


Liverpool to be investigated by UEFA

Liverpool are one of seven clubs under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of financial fair play (FFP) regulations, European football's governing body announced on Thursday.

The Merseyside club were absent from European competition last year and only recently submitted detailed accounts to the governing body, which dictates that losses must be restricted to £35.4million over a two-year window.

Liverpool reported losses of £49.8million for the 2012-13 season, and £40.5million for the 10-month period before that, and join Monaco, Roma, Besiktas, Inter Milan, Krasnodar and Sporting Lisbon in being subjected to investigations relating to "potential break-even breaches".

A UEFA statement read: "The CFCB (club financial control body) has opened formal investigations into seven clubs as they disclosed a break-even deficit on the basis of their financial reporting periods ending in 2012 and 2013.

"These clubs will need to submit additional monitoring information during October and November upon the deadlines set by the CFCB, subsequent to which an additional communication shall be made and conservatory measures may be imposed."

Liverpool face no immediate sanction as they prepare to provide further details to UEFA throughout the next two months, though the provisional withholding of Champions League funds lingers as a potential next step.

The Reds are thought to be confident they will avoid such penalties by virtue of lucrative new commercial deals and writing off some previous losses.

FFP allows certain spending streams, including youth development and stadium expenditure, to exist outside of its strict guidelines and Liverpool will argue that a £35million chunk of their 2011-12 deficit was attached to former co-owner Tom Hicks' aborted plans for a new stadium on Stanley Park.

Manchester City and Paris St Germain were the clubs hit hardest by UEFA last season for breaching FFP rules - they were each fined £49million and handed restrictions on transfer spending and a reduction in Champions League squad size.

UEFA has also announced that prize money has been held back from five clubs - Bursaspor, CFR Cluj, Astra Giurgiu, Buducnost Podgorica and Ekranas - as a result of non-payments to other clubs, players and/or tax authortities.

Reflecting on the recent work of CFCB and the FFP regulations, the UEFA statement continued: "The introduction of the UEFA club licensing and financial fair play regulations has already had a very positive impact on the scale of overdue payables, as they have decreased from 57 million euros in June 2011 to eight million euros in June 2014. In addition, aggregate losses reported by Europe's first-division clubs in the 2013 financial year have gone down to 800 million euros from a record-reported deficit of 1.7 billion euros in 2011."

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