Monday 16 July 2018

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli given compassionate leave after death of adoptive father

Mario Balotelli endured a tough first season at Liverpool Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Mario Balotelli endured a tough first season at Liverpool Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Chris Bascombe

Mario Balotelli was a notable absentee as Liverpool returned to pre-season training on Monday after being given compassionate leave.

The Italian striker was due back on Merseyside as Brendan Rodgers’s squad reconvened, but he has been granted extra time off. Balotelli’s adoptive father, Francesco, died over the weekend.

Balotelli was in the care of foster parents since being three years old.

Liverpool expect the 24-year-old will still join their pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia that begins on Sunday.

Rodgers has confirmed the make-up of his new backroom team, with Sean O’Driscoll and Pep Lijnders joining his staff.

“I have made these appointments because I want to take us in a new technical direction, in terms of coaching,” said Rodgers.

"I believe the entire first-team set-up will benefit and I am extremely positive and excited about what we can achieve, as a group, going forward.

 “My admiration for Sean, as a professional, is well documented. He is someone with a clear vision and philosophy and has proved he has the ability to transfer that knowledge, through his coaching, to the players.

“I am looking forward to working with him and also learning from his experiences and gaining valuable knowledge from his expertise.”

After leaving his role at the Football Association, O’Driscoll said the chance to join Liverpool was too enticing to turn down.

“I am excited to be joining one of the world's most iconic football clubs,” said O’Driscoll.

Liverpool, meanwhile, are no closer to agreeing a fee with Burnley for Bosman signing Danny Ings. Ings joined Liverpool at the end of his contract, but a tribunal is set to determine his price.

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