Liverpool legend John Barnes defends struggling striker Mario Balotelli

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Mario Balotelli form: Liverpool hero John Barnes claims striker is not to blame…

Former Liverpool star John Barnes has spoken out in defence of struggling striker Mario Balotelli, who he believes is not to blame for his old club’s poor start to the season.

The Italian forward has scored just two goals for the Reds since his £16m move from AC Milan, with those coming in the Champions League against minnows Ludogorets, and in the Capital One Cup against Swansea.

But Barnes explained why it’s unfair for the 24-year-old to be shouldering the blame: “Balotelli is Balotelli – he’s got great potential. He’s got fantastic ability but things are not happening at the moment. That’s a reflection on the team’s inconsistency – not him.

“It’s disappointing in terms of starts of the season for everyone but that can all change. Balotelli was a gamble – we all know it was a gamble – but it’s a gamble that can work.

“I don’t want to judge him too soon. It’s not worked out in the first 10 or 12 games but he could start banging them in and have 10 goals by Christmas.

“I’d like to think he’ll stay for three years – the length of his contract – or even longer. I’m confident we’ll see the best of Balotelli. In our day players were not like that because of the team ethic there was then.

“He is a character of modern footballer that we have all made. In modern football the individuality becomes much more apparent. Players in our day were not allowed to be like that but in modern times this is what happens. Society is different now.”

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