Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool dealt blow in bid to sell Balotelli and Benteke

By Robert Jones

Liverpool's hopes of selling Mario Balotelli or Christian Benteke to Besiktas seem to be fading.

The Turkish champions are on the lookout for a striker and had been linked with the Reds pair, who are peripheral to Jurgen Klopp's plans this season.

But chairman Fikret Orman distanced the club from the duo, suggesting Balotelli's temperament and Benteke's £32m asking price were sticking points.

"Benteke is a good player that we would want but he is valued at a very high price. It does not look like an easy deal," he said.

"Balotelli is a major star but a troubled player. He has got an image. We are interested in other players as well. Ideally we want to sign a striker on loan."

Klopp, meanwhile, admits conclusions are hard to draw after an up and down weekend of friendlies.

Summer signing Sadio Mane starred in a morale-boosting 4-0 win over Barcelona on Saturday, before the Reds flew straight to Germany where they lost by the same scoreline to Mainz on Sunday.

Several players were involved in both matches, making for a highly unusual double-header, and Klopp does not intend to get carried away by either result ahead of the start of their Premier League campaign at Arsenal on Sunday.

"(After Barcelona) we could not stop smiling but that was not right, and if we cannot stop being disappointed (after Mainz) that's not right either," he said.

"The line-up was a compromise, changing players. That's not optimum and not very good, but we always expect that we have to do better and we should have done better.

"That's a very important lesson for us. If it's hard - and there will be some hard moments this season - we have to trust our style of play, our philosophy and all of the things we usually do.

"Of course, we should not lose 4-0 but it happened and we can work with it. We are in a good way, 100 per cent. And if we have a proper line-up, we will be strong."

The club are still awaiting news on injured duo James Milner and Daniel Sturridge.

Milner limped out of the Barcelona match with a heel problem which Klopp described as "not too good", while Sturridge was a surprise absentee with a hip complaint.

The club described his omission as "precautionary" but after two injury-hit campaigns the England striker is a doubt for the start of the season.

Belfast Telegraph


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