Liverpool players have been granted a few days off after their 0-0 draw with Blackburn at the weekend and striker Mario Balotelli returned to AC Milan to see some old friends.
@stewel92 #milan che piacere vedervi tutti??
Brendan Rodgers is pushing Mario Balotelli harder than anyone has in his career, according to the striker's agent.
Balotelli has struggled for regular football at Liverpool, but has visibly improved in recent weeks, with Rodgers' trusting the Italian more.
"Right now, I think Mario has a very interesting development for his career," Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola told RMC.
"He has found a coach who asks of him things that had never been requested of him until now, including the discipline of running without the ball.
"This allows him to grow as a person and as a football player. He'll come out even stronger.
"He is proud of his team (Liverpool) and that is the most important."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has criticised Mario Balotelli's work rate and told him to step up his contribution.
Rodgers responded "No, not really no", when asked if he was satisfied with the 24-year-old's stint against the Turkish side, which lasted half an hour.
Rodgers said: "We need to ensure that whatever level of the game we are playing at we have everyone working as a team and once we got the penalty he stops working.
"So he needs to improve on that facet of his game to play in his position, rather than standing on the side of the football field."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given his full backing to striker Mario Balotelli over the penalty furore which blew up in the 1-0 win over Besiktas in the Europa League.
Rodgers insists the Italy international was right to step in front of Jordan Henderson, captain on the night and designated pre-match taker, even if it looked unseemly at the time.
Injured captain Steven Gerrard, as a guest television pundit, called Balotelli "mischievous" and "disrespectful", but Rodgers said the 24-year-old - who has scored 27 out of 29 from the spot in his career - was following the long-established order agreed earlier in the season.
There has probably been a lot more of a drama been made out of it than it actually was. With the players who were initially on the pitch last night Jordan was our nominated taker.
But if Jordan and Steven and Mario are on the pitch at the same time we would normally have Steven and Mario as the penalty-takers.
History shows he (Balotelli) has scored nearly 30 penalties in big games so he is an outstanding penalty-taker, but none of them were on (at the start) so you have to nominate someone.
Jordan was happy enough to take it but he gave it to Mario.
Steven Gerrard and Peter Reid disagreed over the incident which saw Mario Balotelli snatch the ball from stand-in Reds skipper Jordan Henderson to take a late penalty for Liverpool against Besiktas last night.
Working as a pundit for ITV, Liverpool captain Gerrard - who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury - accused Balotelli of "disrespecting" Henderson by demanding to take the spot kick.
Former Everton midfielder Reid defended Balotelli by claiming it was just "confidence, give us it, little bit of a ruck."
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli celebrated his part in the Reds' FA Cup win over Crystal Palace by sparring with his friend, the Armenian-Italian kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan, on a moving train.
Balotelli posted a clip of the action on his Instagram feed:
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Things have not gone as planned for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool but the Italy international is hopeful of turning things around at AnfieldRead the full story ›
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Mario Balotelli will struggle to get into his side at the moment, but confirms the Italian striker will stay with the club.
Balotelli is yet to score in the league since joining from Milan in the summer, and has been left out of the matchday squad recently, but doesn't look set to leave in the January transfer window.
"It's been a difficult period for Mario but he wants to fight for an opportunity here."
After Saturday's draw with Bolton, Rodgers confirmed that Balotelli has been absent as his style was not suited to Liverpool's tactics.
“We spent about an hour or so chatting. He understands where it is at. He knows what is required to get in the squad - the pressing and aggression - and if you can’t do that you are not going to be part of the team. We suffered in the first four months of the season and we can’t go back to that."
Mario Balotelli watches Liverpool v Chelsea in the comfort of his onesie.
This illness might prevent me from helping my team on the pitch but it will NOT stop me from supporting my team off the pitch!! come on guys.. COME ON LIVERPOOL.. YNWA ???