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Balotelli targets Champions League

25 Aug 2014 17:31:52

Balotelli targets Champions League

Mario Balotelli has set his sights on taking Liverpool to Champions League glory after admitting he had made a mistake in turning his back on English football.

The 24-year-old Italy striker has completed a £16million move from AC Milan after Liverpool sealed one of the shock signings of the summer.

Balotelli, who will wear his favoured No 45 shirt, is understood to have signed a three-year deal with the option of a fourth year.

The striker won the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010 and has ambitions of repeating the feat with Liverpool on the Reds' return to Europe's elite competition.

He told Liverpool's official website: "I always start a competition wanting to win it. We will see. I want to win another Champions League for sure, because the Champions League wasn't all mine, I was in a team. I want to take this team to the Champions League."

Balotelli also admitted that just 18 months back in Milan had convinced him he should return to the Premier League.

He added: "I'm happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake. I wanted to go to Italy but I realised it was a mistake.

"English football is generally better. English football is beautiful."

Balotelli was given a rough ride by Liverpool fans during his visits to Anfield while with City, but he has already been given a warm welcome by supporters who had been mourning the departure of Luis Suarez.

He added: "I didn't expect it [the warm reception] because whenever I played against Liverpool, the fans weren't nice with me but that's normal - it's football! Now that I play for Liverpool, I can see the expectation in people. They're very happy and that makes me very happy at the same time.

"To play here for Liverpool excites me, but if you're an opponent it's difficult.

"Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England. The football is very good here. It's a great team with young players, and that's why I came here."

Balotelli spent a year-and-a-half at Milan, where he scored 30 goals in 54 appearances.

He has also won the Champions League, three Serie A championships and the FA Cup, plus 33 caps for Italy during which he has scored 13 goals including the goal that accounted for England in the World Cup.

Balotelli has had a colourful career and has often fallen out with his managers - Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is believed to have asked for assurances about the player's behaviour on and off the pitch.

Rodgers has made it clear no incoming player would be allowed to threaten the "fantastic environment" at the club but hailed Balotelli's arrival as outstanding value" for a "world-class talent".

He told the club's website: "This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here.

"There is no doubting Mario's ability; he is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level.

"He has scored goals in the Barclays Premier League, in Italy, in the Champions League and for his country at international level.

"I believe we have the infrastructure, culture and environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential. We are a strong group here, committed to hard work and he will benefit from being around it.

"I am looking forward to working with him and helping him learn more, improve and progress as a player. I'm sure the supporters will make him feel very welcome."

Press Association Sport understands Balotelli will be at the Etihad Stadium on Monday night to watch Liverpool's match against his former side Manchester City.

The Italian will travel with five of his new team-mates who have not been included in the match-day squad and will meet those who are scheduled to play in the dressing room before kick-off.

He will then watch the game from the directors' box before travelling back to Liverpool with the rest of the squad on the team coach.


PA

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