Liverpool are close to a £16m deal with Milan to sign Mario Balotelli having performed a major U-turn on the merits of bringing the problematic striker back to English football.
Talks between Anfield officials and the player’s representatives are underway in Liverpool over a proposed permanent transfer.
Liverpool offered to sign the 24-year-old on loan yesterday but a combination of an exorbitant loan fee and Milan’s refusal to take the striker back should he cause problems for Brendan Rodgers ended that possibility.
Balotelli is quoted as having told Sky Italia: “Today is my last day at Milan”, while Milan’s website reported: “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.”
Milan are keen to offload Balotelli for a fee of around £20m, although Liverpool believe they can clinch the deal for less after further contact with the vice-president, Adriano Galliani.
The striker, who won the Premier League title with Manchester City but had several run-ins with Roberto Mancini, as well as moments of unrest at Internazionale and with the Italian national team, has previously been linked with a move to Arsenal.
Liverpool’s chief executive, Ian Ayre, and Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, have discussed the prospect of Balotelli joining Liverpool in recent days, though personal terms have not been agreed with the forward at this stage.
It was only last month that Rodgers stated “categorically” he had no interest in having Balotelli at Liverpool, having strived to foster a close-knit squad at Anfield and sign only players he believes will adhere to his ‘elite performance’ standards at Melwood.
The Liverpool manager maintained that stance as the new Premier League season started but with Loïc Rémy’s proposed arrival from Queens Park Rangers collapsing on medical grounds, a loan deal for Radamel Falcao proving costly and dependent on Real Madrid’s interest in the Colombia international, and free agent Samuel Eto’o one of the few remaining viable options, the club has been tempted to reconsider.