Reds star dismisses talk of unrest at Anfield.
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has leaped to the defence of his under-fire team-mate Mario Balotelli, in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT.
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The Italian international has struggled badly at Liverpool since his £16m move to the club from AC Milan in the summer, scoring only two goals so far and looking unconvincing in his efforts on the pitch.
The Reds have badly missed the firepower of Sturridge upfront, with the prolific England international currently out injured, and much of the blame for the club’s poor form has gone on the performances of Balotelli in attack.
Still, Sturridge believes his team-mate is misunderstood and treated unfairly by the media, as his celebrity lifestyle is always likely to be one that attracts plenty of attention.
Despite some speculation that Liverpool’s players are already unhappy with playing alongside the 24-year-old, Sturridge insists he has no problems with the former Manchester City man, and that he is looking forward to returning from injury and playing alongside him in attack.
“Mario has been under the microscope,” he said. “That will always be the case when you play for a big club. You are going to have a lot of eyes on you.
“Mario’s a great guy, and he’s misunderstood sometimes. A lot of people are harsh on him. I get on really with him though. I have nothing but good words to say about him.
“Once I get back fit I’m hoping we can strike up a partnership. Last season with Luis [Suarez] we had a great relationship up front and scored a lot of goals. Hopefully this season it will be the same.”
Sturridge added that many of the stories surrounding Balotelli’s time at Anfield so far are simply not true, and that he is working hard to improve his current poor form.
“He’s working hard on the training field. People have told me he’s working tirelessly to play the way we play,” he added.
“It’s difficult moving to a new club and having new team-mates, it doesn’t [always] just click straight away. Everybody is helping him and he’s playing well. Sometimes you don’t get the breaks in terms of scoring goals. Every striker goes through times when they don’t score.
“A lot of stories have been put out about him in the past which aren’t true. For him, it’s difficult to shake off the celebrity [tag].”