Italian striker set to sign for Liverpool in £16m deal
Mario Balotelli looks set to return to the Barclays Premier League with Manchester City’s title rivals Liverpool after a £16m fee was reported to have been agreed with AC Milan.
Balotelli, 24, left City last year for a fee of £19m and scored 30 goals in 54 games for the Rossoneri but couldn’t prevent them from suffering an indifferent 2013/2014 season, sliding down the Serie A table, and finishing 8th without any prospect of European football this term.
A statement on Milan’s website bade him farewell, it said:
“MILAN – Mario Balotelli drove out of Milanello at 13.30 after saying good-bye to his team-mates and the club’s press staff.”
Balotelli had been heavily linked with Arsenal during the summer before they signed a different type of player in Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez.
The Italian striker was very popular with City fans during his two and a half year spell with them following his signing in August 2010 with a series of controversial and often amusing stories surrounding him characterising the colourful striker’s stay at the Etihad.
His brief stay in English football came to an end soon after a training ground scuffle with then-manager Roberto Mancini.
He scored just 3 goals in 20 appearances in the following season and was shipped off to Milan in January 2013.
Liverpool manager Brenden Rodgers had been dismissive of rumours that Liverpool were interested in Balotelli until this week when events moved quickly.
Prior to this, Rodgers had only signed veteran Southampton targetman Rickie Lambert for £4m to replace the departed Luis Suarez, with £10m signing Divock Origi loaned back to Lille for the forthcoming season.
Young squad striker Fabio Borini has remained the subject of transfer speculation from Sunderland where he spent last season on loan and Rodgers knows he must continue to improve the Liverpool squad with Champions League football awaiting their squad this season.
If Rodgers, who has experience of managing maverick strikers, can harness Balotelli’s undoubted talent he might have found himself a worthy replacement for last season’s player of the season.
If Balotelli can be signed by noon tomorrow there is even the prospect that he could make a swift return to the Etihad on Monday when Liverpool visit in an early title showdown.