Rumour Mongering: Liverpool Interested in Mario Balotelli

Even opponents kindly oblige Mario Balotelli's need for hugs. - Claudio Villa

Last summer's Great Striker Shuffle that was supposed to see all big name strikers move to new clubs is set to continue this summer, with Mario Balotelli looking for a way out of AC Milan.

This summer was always going to see Liverpool linked with bigger names than this time last year, and reports emerging from Italy have placed striker Mario Balotelli in the shop window for perusal by clubs outside of Italy. Reported by such journalistic stalwarts as the Daily Mail, the Mirror, the Daily Star, and even La Gazzetta dello Sport, Balotelli is reported to be unhappy in his home country and seeking a move abroad.

Frequently the target of racist attacks by fans of rival clubs and attendees at national team training sessions, Balotelli's personal situation in Italy has long been a challenging one to live day in, day out. Although his time at Manchester City came with its own problems, the striker reportedly would like to return to former home England, with Liverpool or Arsenal being the alleged destinations owing to their participation in Champions League.

Balotelli fits various pieces of Liverpool's summer transfer puzzle, the biggest of which is the need to purchase another striker. Liverpool's dependence on GOALS GOALS GOALS puts the club in a precarious situation if either of Daniel Sturridge or Luis Suarez get injured, with only Fabio Borini and possibly Iago Aspas to serve as back up in the event of such a tragedy. Balotelli is clearly a huge talent and an obvious upgrade on Liverpool's existing third and fourth options.

With Brendan Rodgers' man management skills proving to be such a vital part of Liverpool's success, it's also no wonder a player as controversial as Balotelli might be connected with the club. Balotelli is well known for a variety of misdeeds from his past, but the player seems to have largely put those behind him, and a sudden onset grass allergy would be unlikely to plague him during Champions League nights at Anfield under Rodgers' supervision.

Despite the connect-the-dots nature of this rumour, there doesn't seem to be much fire behind this smoke. Balotelli was a regular starter at current club AC Milan this season, and it seems unlikely that the star striker would be willing to trade that for reduced minutes at Liverpool, even with the promise of Champions League and all the additional matches that brings. It's so early in the transfer window that the window's still shut, but it's unlikely the Italian will materialize on Merseyside even once it does open.

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