Brendan Rodgers insists Liverpool had no choice but to sign Mario Balotelli as the controversial Italian's struggles on Merseyside continue.
Liverpool splashed out £16 million to bring Balotelli from AC Milan in the summer as Rodgers re-modelled his attack in the wake of Luis Suarez's defection to Barcelona, but the 24-year-old's return to England has been frought with problems.
Just two goals in 14 matches in all competitions have been compounded with a groin injury and a Football Association charge for an Instagram post that allegedly contained anti-Semitic and racist references.
But Rodgers is adamant that the signing of Balotelli made sense at the time, given his undoubted ability and Liverpool's need for another frontman to provide an alternative to Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert.
“As as a club we felt that buying Mario was the solution at the time,” the Liverpool boss told reporters.
“In the summer, we had Rickie Lambert. Fabio Borini looked 100 per cent that he was leaving, and obviously Daniel Sturridge has shown in his career so far that he gets injuries.
“To go into the season with no-one else would have been very difficult for us. It would have been unfair to leave Rickie Lambert, as a 32-year-old, as the only other striker that we had.
“I felt it was a risk we needed to take with Mario because, as a group, we couldn’t afford not to a that time. It was obviously late on and we needed to have someone in.
“It’s something that we can’t regret now. I made it clear at the beginning it was a calculated risk - and that is why he probably cost the money he did.”