LIVERPOOL, October 23- Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers revealed he will take action against Mario Balotelli after he swapped shirts with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time of Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League defeat against the holders at Anfield.
Rodgers already planned to haul off Balotelli during the interval after growing frustrated with the latest in a growing list of lacklustre displays from the eccentric Italy striker since his August move from AC Milan.
The former Manchester City star, who was replaced by Adam Lallana, hardly improved his chances of getting back in Rodgers’ good books when he decided to exchange shirts with Madrid defender Pepe in the tunnel before entering the Liverpool dressing room.
Rodgers, who didn’t find out about Balotelli’s antics until after the match, frowns on such unfocused behaviour and prefers his players to wait until the end of the match if they want to swap shirts.
He took action against Reds defender Mamadou Sakho when he exchanged shirts with Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o during the interval of a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge last season and vowed to do the same with Balotelli, although he declined to say what the punishment would be.
“We had an incident last year with a player and it was dealt with. It’s exactly the same,” Rodgers said.
“I heard about it when I came off the pitch. I don’t like that.
“It’s something that doesn’t happen here, it shouldn’t happen here.
“For me, if you want to do that it’s something you do at the end of the game. I will deal with that tomorrow (Thursday).”
Balotelli has scored just once in 10 appearances for the Reds and Rodgers was scathing when asked to compare his forward’s lethargic effort against Real to the more whole-hearted endeavours of his team-mates.
“I felt we needed more movement centrally, so I moved Raheem (Sterling) there to occupy the centre-backs,” Rodgers said.
“In the second half you could see every player pressing and working.
“At Liverpool that is the minimum we expect. You could see Adam Lallana when he came on he was tireless in his work.”