Reds interested in Balotelli
Published 21/08/2014 | 09:46
Mario Balotelli has added credence to reports linking him with Liverpool by suggesting he is poised to leave AC Milan.
Press Association Sport understands Liverpool have declared their interest in the former Manchester City striker.
The Italian club's TV channel has reported that negotiations over Balotelli with Liverpool have begun, with any deal for the 24-year-old to be for a permanent transfer.
Balotelli, quoted by Sky Italia, said: "It's my last day at Milanello (club training ground)."
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has previously expressed admiration for Balotelli but denied any possibility of a transfer.
Yet should discussions advance, the possibility arises that Balotelli could become a Liverpool player before they play his former club City in their next Barclays Premier League game on Monday.
Balotelli enjoyed a whirlwind stint at City between 2010 and 2013, winning an FA Cup and Premier League title but gaining notoriety for his unpredictable off-field behaviour.
Most famously, fireworks were set off from his bathroom window, he threw a dart at a youth-team player and pictures emerged of training-ground scrapes with team-mates and manager Roberto Mancini.
Performances on the pitch, compelling at first, also became erratic and City offloaded the player to Milan, his boyhood club, for £19million in January last year.
Rodgers has experience with difficult characters, of course, having coaxed the best out of Luis Suarez before his departure for Barcelona.
Suarez's disciplinary problems - including biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic on Rodgers' watch, as well as a publicly stated desire to leave - caused headaches for Rodgers but the Uruguayan thrived on the pitch.
He swept the board at the end of season awards and the £65-75million Liverpool eventually banked from Barca largely funded a squad-building spending spree this summer.
But Rodgers remains in the market for a marquee striker to share the load with Daniel Sturridge, with Rickie Lambert currently the only frontline support.
New signing Divock Origi has been allowed to return to Lille on loan while Fabio Borini, who had a successful spell at Sunderland last season, appears out of the picture.
Monaco's Radamel Falcao is another big name who has been linked with Anfield but Balotelli, who has been valued at around £17.5million, would be a more attainable target.
He scored 16 times for Milan last season, as well as grabbing Italy's winner in the World Cup opener against England in Manaus.
Milan club administrator Adriano Galliani said on Wednesday they had yet to receive an offer from the Reds, but the situation appears to be advancing.
Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, meanwhile, said previously he came close to selling Balotelli - who is under contract at the San Siro until June 2017 - to an unnamed English club before the World Cup.
Milan said on their website on Thursday afternoon that Balotelli had bid farewell to his team-mates before leaving training.
The statement on www.acmilan.it read: "Mario Balotelli left Milanello's sporting centre at 13.30 (local time), after saying goodbye to his team-mates.
"Before leaving the premises, the striker has said goodbye to members of Milan's press office."