Mario Balotelli is struggling to adapt to life at Liverpool because he is missing his daughter, according to agent Mino Raiola.
Balotelli, 24, has scored just twice in 14 games since a £16 million summer move from AC Milan, failing to impress when leading the line in Daniel Sturridge’s absence, and has missed the past two matches against Crystal Palace and Ludogrets Razgrad, respectively, with a hamstring problem.
Raiola insists, however, that the polarising striker’s poor form is because daughter Pia, who was born in December 2012, lives with her mother in Italy, and opportunities to visit have been few and far between.
"It's wrong to criticise him," Raiola told Il Corriere dello Sport, in quotes reported by the London Evening Standard.
"He needs to be given time to adapt at Liverpool. His difficult time is not connected to football but to the fact he can't see his daughter as much as he would like."
Recent reports have suggested that Balotelli could in fact be heading back to his homeland as soon as this winter, with both former club Inter Milan and Rafa Benitez’s Napoli mentioned as potential suitors, but agent Raiola has quashed those suggestions.
“He needs a bit of time to adapt to Liverpool,” he continued. “One thing is for sure and that is that he will never return to Italy. I have already made the mistake to listen to him and bring him back to back to Italy once before."