Football: Klopp shows flop Balotelli the exit door

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Mamadou Sakho in May this year. The France international has not played since April, when Uefa told him that he had failed a dope test, although the case against him was dismissed this month.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Mamadou Sakho in May this year. The France international has not played since April, when Uefa told him that he had failed a dope test, although the case against him was dismissed this month.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told Mario Balotelli that, with so much competition for places up front at Anfield, he should begin looking for another club.

The Italian striker has returned for pre-season training following an unsuccessful loan spell at AC Milan but is well down the pecking order at the English football club, who also have Daniel Sturridge, Christian Benteke, Divock Origi and Danny Ings on the books.

"I have spoken to him about this," Klopp said yesterday. "He's not at the stage of his career where he should be battling with four or five other players for one or two positions… so it's clear we need a solution.

"There will be a club around who would be happy to have the new Mario Balotelli. I have spoken clearly to the player about that."

Italy's Sampdoria have expressed their interest in the player, with president Massimo Ferrero saying they would be the perfect club for him to revive his career after he scored just three goals in 23 appearances for Milan last season.

Another player who is unlikely to be lining up for Liverpool for their Premier League opener against Arsenal on Aug 14 is the defender Mamadou Sakho, who underwent treatment for a long-standing Achilles problem.

The France international has not played since April after being informed by European football's governing body that he had failed a dope test.

Uefa eventually dismissed the case against the 26-year-old last week, but Sakho missed Liverpool's Europa League final defeat by Sevilla in May and was dropped from France's squad for the European Championship as a result of the charge.

"Mama is injured. He had a little issue with his Achilles when he was playing, one day on, one off, this kind of thing," Klopp said. "When he had his little 'break' he used the time to have a little bit of treatment and that now means another three or four weeks before he can train again.

"There was no surgery, he is just not about to train at the moment. He has got some rehab of course and it's not too good a situation for him, for us, everybody."

Klopp did not want to get drawn into whether the matter with Uefa was now closed.

"I cannot say too much as a manager," he said. "I don't know exactly what will happen now from Mama's side or Uefa's side. Others have to talk about this because I don't know what I am allowed or able to say."

Sakho's likely absence from the beginning of the season next month leaves Klopp short of central defenders. Slovak veteran Martin Skrtel is in Turkey to sign for Fenerbahce and Ivory Coast's Kolo Toure has been released, leaving Croatia's Dejan Lovren and Cameroon international Joel Matip, who came on a free transfer from Bundesliga outfit Schalke.

The good news is that Germany's Emre Can is capable of slotting in at centre-back.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'Klopp shows flop Balotelli the exit door'. Print Edition | Subscribe