Mario Balotelli
Balotelli has scored one goal in ten appearances for Liverpool since joined from AC Milan.Getty Images/PAUL ELLIS

Kenny Dalglish has defended Mario Balotelli's half time shirt swap with Real Madrid star Pepe, insisting the striker likely wasn't aware of the English frowning upon it.

Balotelli was substituted after the incident and Brendan Rodgers later spoke about how it was disrespectful. He wasn't helped by the fact that he is struggling in front of the net for the Reds and they went down to their opposition 3-0 at Anfield, leaving them out of the qualification places for the next stage of the Champions League.

But Dalglish argued that people shouldn't take Balotelli's actions to mean he has a problem with Liverpool or Rodgers, with shirt-swapping a normal practice overseas.

"He didn't mean any disrespect. Some people seem to have interpreted him swapping shirts as a gesture of defiance towards the club because he was going to be substituted," he told the Daily Mail. "That's absurd.

"The culture has changed now, particularly abroad. Players like to swap shirts. It's not unusual for them to do it at half-time. I don't really see the problem with it.

"Swapping shirts at half-time is not part of English football's culture but my guess is Mario Balotelli didn't know that. Pepe asked him to swap shirts anyway. It wasn't as if Mario initiated it."

Balotelli has not had the start at Liverpool that he might have hoped for after moving from AC Milan in the summer. As well as having yet to find a goal in the Premier League, he has been widely criticised for looking disinterested on the pitch and failing to stand out when the side are struggling.

Rodgers has long insisted that he is not a replacement for Luis Suarez, who scored the majority of Liverpool's goals last season when they came to within a game of winning the title. But the manager would likely have hoped that Balotelli would be repaying his faith in goals by now.