Mario Balotelli has left Liverpool with a parting shot at manager Brenan Rodgers, whose tactics he blames for a dismal season at Anfield.
The 25-year-old striker has returned to Milan on loan a year after leaving the Serie A club in a transfer deadline day deal, which Rodgers described at the time as a calculated risk. It failed to pay off for either party, with the Italy international scoring just four goals in 28 appearances and only one of those coming in 16 Premier League matches.
Balotelli came in for plenty of criticism but the Italian striker says that Rodgers’ tactics made it difficult for him.
“I must accept my faults but the formation chosen by Rodgers was not suited to my characteristics,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“At the beginning I missed several easy chances, then I had fewer chances to score, a bit of bad luck, injuries. A mess of things.”
Rodgers made it clear to Balotelli he no longer had a future at the club, forcing him to train away from the rest of the squad with the other discarded players, Fabio Borini and José Enrique.
“I never complained, I accepted the decisions of the manager and I always behaved like a professional,” Balotelli added.
“The professional Mario didn’t just land here in Milan, even at Liverpool my behaviour and lifestyle were normal.
“Over the last year there was never a problem with my private life. I may have put pictures from restaurants on Instagram but that does not mean I did not train, even though I was not playing.”
Milan have inserted a number of good behaviour clauses into his loan contract, including restrictions over his conduct on and off the pitch and even over his haircut and appearance.
“I have been asked to tone down my look, to follow Milan’s style, and I will follow that without trouble,” the striker added. “I have had this haircut for a long time, I won’t take it too far.
Balotelli said he was grateful for the opportunity offered him by Milan’s disciplinarian coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
“My problem has never been my quality but my character,” he said. “There are always a lot of voices surrounding me, every aspect of me is amplified. Rightly so he (Milhajlovic) wanted to look into my eyes, to understand whether I had the right motivation.
“[I told him] that I understood my errors, that if he gave me this chance I would not disappoint him, that I am a man and I no longer create problems, that I will accept all of his decisions.
“He looks at the man, not just the player. He showed himself by taking me back. I have a huge debt to repay him.
“I am restarting from zero. I know that I can’t make any mistakes, I can’t expect anything and I must win everything back. I am no longer a child and I have already thrown away too many chances.”