Thursday, 21 August 2014

Mario Balotelli: Liverpool agree £16m fee for AC Milan striker

Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli
Liverpool have agreed a £16m fee with AC Milan to sign former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers wants the Italy international, 24, to strengthen his attack after last season's top scorer Luis Suarez joined Barcelona.

Balotelli moved to Milan for £19m from City last year and has scored 30 goals in 54 games for the Serie A club.

Liverpool travel to Etihad Stadium in their next Premier League match on Monday.

Negotiations are still taking place to agree terms with the player, but Balotelli has already said his farewells in Italy.

Milan said in a statement on their website: "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."

Balotelli was a big hit with City supporters during his first spell in England, helping the club win a first league title since 1968.

But he was also in the headlines for several off-the-pitch incidents - including a training-ground bust-up with then-manager Roberto Mancini.

In his second season in Manchester, he scored only three goals in 20 games.

The striker agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Milan in January 2013, and played for Italy at the World Cup in Brazil.

He was heavily linked with Arsenal earlier in the summer, but after bringing in Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona for £35m, Arsene Wenger ruled out signing another forward.

Liverpool have so far brought in only one frontman for the new campaign, signing Rickie Lambert from Southampton for £4m.

The Reds paid £10m for Lille's Belgium striker Divock Origi, 19, but have loaned him back to the French club for the season.

With doubts surrounding the future of Fabio Borini, who remains a target for Sunderland, Rodgers is keen to add to his forward line.

"I do still think we need another striker," he said after Liverpool began their Premier League campaign with a 2-1 victory over Southampton.

"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."

AC Milan endured a difficult campaign last season, finishing eighth in Serie A and failing to qualify for Europe.

Balotelli would be guaranteed Champions League football at Liverpool, who finished runners-up to City in the Premier League last term.
Balotelli started all three games for Italy during this summer's World Cup in Brazil
The striker met Pope Francis during an audience at the Vatican last year

Borussia Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller got the Balotelli treatment in a Champions League game
Balotelli won the 2011-12 Premier League title under Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

When two fans ran on to the pitch during a recent AC Milan friendly, Balotelli agreed to pose for a 'selfie'

BBC Sports

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