Liverpool forwards Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini will not be returning to their native Italy in the January transfer window, according to their agents.
With striker Daniel Sturridge to return from a long injury lay-off later this month, the pair are set to slip even further down the pecking order.
In the absence of Raheem Sterling, who was given a short break by manager Brendan Rodgers, Borini was preferred to his fellow countryman in Saturday’s victory at Sunderland but neither are likely to feature prominently in the remainder of the season.
However, despite both being linked with moves back to Italy the agents of Balotelli and Borini insist that will not happen.
“[Balotelli] has a contract with Liverpool and can’t really be offered to other clubs,” agent Mino Raiola told Mediaset Premium.
“He chose to leave Italy and was aware of what he was leaving; he hasn’t had the success he was hoping for, but he still needs time.
“Juventus have denied their interest in him, and I have had absolutely no contact with Inter (Milan), so that’s the current situation now.”
Borini’s representative Marco de Marchi has also denied his player will be leaving Anfield. “Borini will not return to Italy in January,” he told SportItalia. “He is happy with Liverpool, the club he is playing for.”
Rodgers expects there to be little or no business done in this transfer window with any departures likely to be loans for players who have not had much pitch time.
His injury list is easing with defender Jon Flanagan set to return soon having not featured since the end of last season because of a knee injury.
The 22-year-old, who has been used on both the left and right side of defence by Rodgers, is out of contract in the summer and increased competition in those areas – Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno both arrived last summer – presents a challenge for him in the next couple of months.
“When I saw that we signed two full-backs, I immediately thought ‘I need to up my game now’,” he told the Official Liverpool Magazine.
“I know I need to consistently do well if I’m to get in the team and then stay there.
“I want to keep developing as a footballer, that’s why not being available has been so frustrating, but competition for places doesn’t bother me. I’m always up for the fight.
“I’ve been out for what has felt like a really long time. I’ve got in the team before and kept my place. Now I need to do that again.”
There has been no update on the fitness of captain Steven Gerrard, who was withdrawn as a precaution at half-time at Sunderland due to tightness in his hamstring.