Andrea Pirlo says international teammate Mario Balotelli can still become a Liverpool hit

Andrea Pirlo has backed his international teammate Mario Balotelli.

New York City star Andrea Pirlo believes Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli still has all the attributes necessary to be one of the leading strikers in Europe, The Sun report.

Balotelli joined the Reds last summer, trading Serie A giants AC Milan for Anfield in a deal which was met with mixed emotions from the Liverpool supporters.

The 24-year-old undoubtedly has talent, but his lack of motivation and motionless style of play was always going to cause a conflict in Brendan Rodgers’ intense, high-pressing ethos at the club.

It was a risk, and one which ultimately backfired as the former Manchester City star struggled for form, scoring just one Premier League over the course of the entire campaign.

His lack of passion and profligacy in-front of goal has seen an overwhelming amount of fans call for his sale this summer. However, in fellow Italian Pirlo, Balotelli still has a firm believer.

“He made mistakes when he was younger, he knows this. But I hope next season goes well for him, because I still believe he has all the attributes to be one of the top forwards in Europe,” Pirlo said.

This season’s prospects:

With Liverpool seeing Christian Benteke, Danny Ings and Divock Origi arrive at Anfield this summer, one can only suggest that Balotelli will find it extremely tough to break in to the first-team.

However, his reputation as a menace has so far put off any potential suitors meaning the Reds for the time being are stuck with him, regardless of whether they want him to stay or not.

The controversial striker can still play a part this season, though his immediate goal should be to increase his intensity and hope he can make a telling contribution when given precious minutes off the bench.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch