LONDON, England, September 16- Steven Gerrard is hopeful Mario Balotelli can fill the void left by the departure of Luis Suarez and told the Daily Mail: “If people want to write stories about him and say that he is crazy or he is a nutter, let them.”
Suarez, who arrived at Liverpool from Ajax in 2011, played a key role in firing the Reds back into the Champions League but made a big-money move to Barcelona during the summer.
Liverpool opted to bring in Balotelli from AC Milan, along with Southampton’s Rickie Lambert, to reinforce the attack and, despite the Italian’s reputation for causing trouble, Gerrard feels he could flourish with the support of his new club.
“There is no doubt Luis Suarez is going to be one of the big players in the Champions League this season,” he said. “I know how much he wants to play in the competition. I had many conversations with him about it. But we have got Mario now and we have got to move on.
“If we get the best out of him, we have got him. If people want to write stories about him and say that he is crazy or he is a nutter, let them, but he is one of us now.
“We have welcomed him into this club with open arms and we want to help him succeed. Everyone is hoping he is going to be a hit. He has got a great set of teammates who will work for him and back him. He has got to do the same for us.”
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said on Monday that he was confident Balotelli would play an important role for the club in the Champions League.
“He’s arguably one of the most experienced players here in terms of this level of competition and international calibre,” Rodgers said. “The best players enjoy that responsibility. I think it’s one he’s relishing. On the training field, he’s going to work hard to accept that responsibility.
“He knows that he’s been brought in here to do a job, which is to create and score goals — and work hard.”