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Liverpool is 'a family club', Brendan Rodgers warns Mario Balotelli

Brendan Rodgers has warned that no incoming player will be allowed to threaten the "fantastic environment" he has fostered at Liverpool as Mario Balotelli prepares to sign for the club.

Mario Balotelli's career has been peppered with controversy. Picture: Getty
Mario Balotelli's career has been peppered with controversy. Picture: Getty

The Italian international was at the Melwood training facility yesterday ahead of a medical after Liverpool agreed a £16m fee with AC Milan for Balotelli. A key aspect of the discussions between Liverpool and Balotelli's agent - said to have taken place on Thursday evening, continued yesterday and progressed well - is believed to have been the club's desire to obtain assurances about the 24-year-old's behaviour.

Rodgers who insisted "categorically" that he would not be signing Balotelli, was unwilling to refer to the player by name yesterday afternoon, but he did emphasise that there is an "extensive code of conduct" at Anfield to be adhered to.

Asked about Balotelli at his press conference to preview Monday's Barclays Premier League match against the Italian's former club Manchester City, Rodgers said with a smile: "I can categorically tell you . . . that I can't speak about it until the player is signed. If we sign anyone, I will speak at length about them, but until then I can't say anything."

Rodgers did, though, go on to speak about the level of behaviour expected at Liverpool and his determination to protect them, indicating that Balotelli would be subject to the same rules as everyone else at the club.

The striker is a proven performer, but the baggage that comes with him is considerable. His short career thus far has been a whirlwind one, with occasional sparkling performances interspersed with on-field volatility and erratic behaviour off it.

Rodgers said: "I think every club will have a code of conduct for the people and professionals who work [for them]. We have quite an extensive code of conduct for players and staff - there is no specific one for any one individual. We have a fantastic environment here and a great culture, and I think it is something that was very important for us to create and build here. There will be nothing that will ever shake that or provoke it in any way. It is something I always protect at the club."

Rodgers said he has "complete confidence" that any player he signs for Liverpool will not be a disruptive influence. "With every player we assess and look at, of course, character is very important and no player would come here if I felt it couldn't work," Rodgers said. "If I feel someone cares enough, I will give them everything, and, thankfully, we have a culture here that creates talents and gives them the oppor­tunity to blossom.

"Players and people come in all different shapes and sizes and have different traits. You can't throw a blanket over everyone. This isn't like many clubs. Liverpool is a club that is a real strong family football club, with values and ethics that run over many years. I, as the manager, will fight to protect that always, so no matter what player or professional at the club, they will abide by that."

He will not feature against his old club at the Etihad as his transfer needed to have been completed yesterday for him to be eligible.

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