The former Reds boss says has strongly refuted speculation of a deal for the Italy international but says the Anfield faithful will back the striker if he works hard on the pitch


Napoli coach Rafael Benitez has completely dismissed suggestions that he will try to sign Mario Balotelli from Liverpool in the January transfer window.

The Italy international has endured a slow start to his career at Anfield and is still yet to score in the Premier League for Brendan Rodgers’s side.

Balotelli was signed from AC Milan in a €20 million deal in August but Benitez says he will not try to bring him back to Italy when the transfer window reopens.

“Liverpool fans are loyal – if he works in the field then they will support him,” the Spaniard told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Mario coming to us in January though? There is absolutely nothing to this, it is just a hypothesis that I have never considered.”

Benitez, who spent six years as Liverpool manager, also spoke about his future with his contract at Napoli set to expire in the summer.

“My family are away from me, my wife and two daughters live in Liverpool. It’s the first time I haven’t had them with me, it’s not easy,” he added. “[owner Aurelio] De Laurentiis knows how important my family values are to me.

“Experience tells me we have to work on the current project. I often speak with [sporting director] Riccardo Bigon, and I always say to De Laurentiis that he must ensure the future of the club regardless of myself.

“The problem isn’t the renewal, but sharing the same vision, it’s not a question of money or signings. We need to work to see if we can win together going forward or not, and then we’ll see.”