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Balotelli left in no doubt that Liverpool want him out

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Balotelli can't even make the Liverpool second XI now
Balotelli can't even make the Liverpool second XI now

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has sent a clear message to Mario Balotelli that his days at Anfield are numbered - after leaving him out of the club's final two pre-season matches.

Balotelli was not expected to be included in the strong squad Rodgers has named for his side's trip to Finland to face HKJ Helsinki, but he was expected to be part of the travelling party to play a lower key game at Swindon.

Having been omitted from the club's pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia, Balotelli will now have no games under his belt heading into the first game of the season.

Bologna are being linked with a move to bring Balotelli back to Italy and Sunday World columnist John Aldridge believes the doomed experiment of signing the Italian last summer may not be so easy to fix.

"Who is going to take Balotelli now," questions Aldridge. "It is a major problem and one Rodgers and Liverpool need to solve because they don't need him around the place.

"I would be amazed if any club wants Balotelli after the year he has put in at Liverpool, but it is up to the club to try and get rid of him now because they decided to take the gamble on him last summer."

New arrivals Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke may well get their first run-outs in Liverpool colours in the game at Swindon.