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Mario Balotelli edging closer to shock $26 million Liverpool switch

Aug 21, 2014, 8:20 AM EDT

Balotelli Getty Images

In the past 24 hours Mario Balotelli‘s potential move to Liverpool has gone from ‘surely not…’ to ‘oh my word, I think this actually might happen.’

On Wednesday evening at ProSoccerTalk, we brought you the story that Liverpool and AC Milan were reportedly in talks over one of the most charismatic players the game has ever seen.

[RELATED: Liverpool, AC Milan in Balotelli talks]

Now, those talks have intensified and Balotelli, 24, is said to be closing in on a move back to the Premier League with Liverpool. The enigmatic Italian joined AC Milan for $30 million last summer but is said to want a move back to England, with a switch to Anfield now a real possibility. Liverpool and Milan have reportedly agreed a $26 million fee for Balotelli, with Milan stating that Balotelli has said “goodbye to his teammates” after training and is now on his way out of the club. ProSoccerTalk have been in contact with Liverpool for an update on the situation but have not received any comment.

Despite denying a move for Balotelli all summer, it seem as though Brendan Rodgers has stepped up his move to sign a top-class replacement for Luis Suarez. Following Liverpool’s opening day win over Southampton on Sunday, Rodgers confirmed that “I do still think we need another striker” and that “it is something that we will look at, but it will depend on the availability of one. We will search through to the end of the transfer window.”

[RELATED: Transfer Rumor Roundup]

Most of the leading newspapers in Italy have already said their goodbyes to the Italian international, below you can see the headline from Corriere dello sport, which simply says “Mario for sale” across the front page.

That claim Balotelli is heading to Liverpool and will be paid in excess of $5 million per year, as he doesn’t want to play in the Europa League with AC Milan and wants to be in the UEFA Champions League. Liverpool can offer that after their second place finish last season but does manager Rodgers really want to risk tampering with the great team spirit present at Anfield?

Balotelli is a terrific player, we all know that. However bizarre incidents on and off the field have marred his career so far. The striker spent three seasons in England with Manchester City, becoming a cult hero among the Citizens’ fans and scoring 30 goals in 80 games as City won their first league title since 1968.

From the ‘Why Always Me?” shirt, to being allergic to grass, to shooting fireworks out of his bathroom window and handing out large wads of cash to homeless people on the streets of Manchester, Balotelli’s legend began to grow in Manchester. Then in 2013 he signed for AC Milan back in his homeland and has since scored 30 goals in 54 games, while becoming Italy’s main attacking threat. Balotelli scored the winner for Italy in their opening game of the 2014 World Cup vs. England plus he shone at the European Championships in 2012 as the Azzurri reached the final.

If Rodgers can get into Balotelli’s head and tap into his growing maturity levels, Liverpool may get a player who can link up superbly with Daniel Sturridge and help bring 20-plus goals to the team. In many ways, Balotelli is the missing piece of the puzzle for Liverpool.

Everyone is asking the same question: will Liverpool really take a gamble on him?

  1. jrocknstuff - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    Surely having a striker that hands out large amounts of cash to the homeless cannot be as detrimental to the club as a striker that gets suspended for 10 matches for biting an opponent? Pretty sure Balotelli will be fine at Anfield.

  2. Ian's Rushtache - Aug 21, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    The more I think about it the more I’m convinced I like this move. Remember when Sturrridge first arrived all we heard was tales of his selfishness and me first attitude from his Chelski and Citeh days.

    The Boss has a special way of handling players. IBWT

  3. navyeoddavee9 - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    rush, you are digging deep, comparing Sturridge to Balotelli, Balotelli’s incidents are documented, not heard about, he’s a great player, when he wants to be, could be boom or bust, could help the locker room, could destroy it(literally), and heaping praise on Rodgers for his player management, didn’t handle Suarez, too well, in fact, couldn’t handle him, so had to sell him, but Liverpool fans have swept that under the rug, and pretend it didn’t happen.

    • cuppyjo - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      I disagree. Aside from diving, Suarez showed a considerable change in behavior following his 2nd biting ban. Rodgers handled that situation with composure, which led to incredible results. Suarez then returned to training for WC2014 with Uruguay, a squad that plays with a thuggish, less-than-honorable approach. It’s with Uruguay that he repeated his offence (again). You can’t put that on BR.

      • scoochpooch - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:31 AM

        Hit nail on the head with comment about the Uruguay thug style of play. Definitely the new villains in international soccer.

    • mox19380 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:24 AM

      I’d disagree that KOP or Rodgers couldn’t handle him as much as they were just tired of handling him. There concerns were confirmed when he reverted to his old ways in the WC. We can blame Uruguay’s style of play but ultimately Suarely is who he is.

    • Ian's Rushtache - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      First, I only used Sturrridge as an example. Other choices would be Raheem or Suarez. If you think for a second that the Boss won’t send Balotelli to train with the reserves you are mistaken.

      You clearly have a beef with Pool, or me after I slated your Toffees. You are certainly entitled to your opinion of Rodgers man management, however pretty much everybody involved in the game in England in any capacity disagrees with you.

  4. mogogo1 - Aug 21, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    I have to wonder if the racism he’s faced in his native Italy might not be playing into his decision. He made some comments a couple months ago to the effect that while he knows there are racists in England, they hide it way better than those in Italy. He had slurs yelled at him by other Italians during their World Cup training camp. Nobody should have to put up with garbage like that.

    • mox19380 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:17 AM

      I think they must have. which is sad because I know his ties and love for Italy are deep. If I were him I’d want a new scene

  5. mox19380 - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    BBC is reporting that the team informed him of the deal and Balotelli has said his goodbyes to teammates.

    I think this change of scenery is perfect for Balotelli. His skill is undeniable as is his heart. There have been insane amounts of non-soccer issues regarding race and what not that I think will be avoided in Liverpool. It’s going to be amazing seeing Coach Rodgers design for Super Mario.

    Go REDS!!

    • martin492013 - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Undeniable heart???? Like when he walked and pouted around the pitch in the World Cup when he wasn’t getting his way…………Talented for sure, heart no way.

  6. scoochpooch - Aug 21, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Not really a surprise switch, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, LiverpoolSox feel compelled to replace one jerk (Suarez) with another jerk (Balotelli). If this organization is willing to employ scum like Suarez and David Ortiz-Arias, then why not pick up Subpar Mario.

  7. geejon - Aug 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Good luck with him.

    Anyone who follows Serie A or the Italian national team can tell you he’s the same headcase he’s always been. Even in Italy’s last game in the group stage, he was so out of it mentally that the game became secondary to his antics. Faking fouls, repeatedly fouling himself, earning a yellow … to the point he had to be subbed off at the half because it was only a matter of time before he got a second yellow. No one in Milan will be sad to see him go either. If everything isn’t going perfect for him he shuts down mentally and in his expressions and play shows that he would rather be anywhere but on a pitch at that moment.

    I predict Liverpool will be selling him for half what they paid by next year.

  8. gpry - Aug 21, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    My only concern is his attitude rubbing off on the youngsters. I trust BR, but he isn’t going to be hanging out with the players after hours. That’s when problems happen

  9. redmarkoz - Aug 21, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    The clown Rodgers talked the talk about signing Cavani then it was Falcao but when it came to walking the walk liverpool ended up with Mario the booby prize Balotelli.

    • Ian's Rushtache - Aug 21, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      I’ll buy you a plane and game ticket to Anfield if you can cite a source where Rodgers talks about signing either Cavani or Falcao.

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