sport

Pellegrini: Balotelli can star

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes Mario Balotelli could be the 'perfect fit' for Liverpool - but insists they will still miss Luis Suarez.

Liverpool are understood to be closing in on a 16million deal to bring the former City forward Balotelli to Anfield and Pellegrini feels he could be a big hit at Anfield.

Pellegrini, whose spell at the Etihad Stadium began after Balotelli's two and a half-year stay, said: "Liverpool will always miss Luis Suarez because he is a very important player but they have brought a lot of important new players and continue being a very strong squad also.

"I think Mario Balotelli is a very good player. He went from Manchester City to Italy but I think he can play everywhere he wants. I know the character of Mario Balotelli - everyone that is involved in football knows about him.

"If Liverpool decide he is the player that is important for them, perfect for them and perfect for Mario."

If, as expected, Liverpool conclude their deal for Balotelli, he cannot be registered in time to face his old club City on Monday.

Pellegrini Is keen to lay down a marker for the season in the Sky Live clash but the City boss is frustrated that he does not have a fully fit squad to choose from.

He said: "We are just starting this season - last season for us is finished. We are not thinking any more about what happened last season.

"I always say to the players that these games are games of six points, especially when you play at home with the most important squads of the Premier League such as Liverpool or Arsenal or Chelsea.

"Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna - and Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis and Fernandinho, who already played - all of them will be not 100 per cent, but ready."

"It is important for us as we are just starting the season and maybe we don't have our whole squad in the best fitness moment, but I think this week we have worked very hard and very well, so I hope we can do a very good game and win the three points."