LONDON (AP) — Research by an anti-discrimination group shows that Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has been targeted by more than 4,000 racially abusive posts on social media this season.

A study by Kick It Out found that Balotelli received more than 8,000 discriminatory messages on social media between August and March, 52 percent of which were of a racist nature.

The Italy international has been the most-abused Premier League player on social media this season, followed by Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge.

Premier League clubs and players received more than 130,000 abusive posts on social media, with Chelsea subjected to 20,000 of them.

Kick It Out director Roisin Wood says "the level of abuse is truly staggering."

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