Following reports from journalists in Italy that Mario Balotelli had become a target of AC Milan and that a deal was likely comes word today that the out of favour striker is set to travel to Italy this evening ahead of a medical tomorrow. If he passes, it is believed he will complete a £2.2M loan deal with an option for the Serie A club to make it permanent next summer for £7.3M.
All told, it could mean that Liverpool will recoup around £9.5M in transfer fees for a player they paid Milan £16M last summer in a misguided attempt to add a striker late in the window after missing their primary targets. Balotelli always seemed something of a panicked gamble on Liverpool’s part, a player who for all his still raw talent was clearly ill-suited to how they wanted to play. And in the end, time proved the perception true.
Now, according to Gazetta dello Sport and multiple English sources, he’s moving on. He will be taking a pay cut in order to help the deal go through, while there are conflicting reports over whether Liverpool will be stuck paying a portion of his remaining wage—leaving it far from clear for now at least how much better off the Reds will be financially. Though Milan will have an option to buy should his loan go well, they will be under no obligation.
During his time with Liverpool, some have sought out the slightest transgression with which to beat the drum of Balotelli as unpredictable and unprofessional, but on the pitch at least the player always appeared to try. It’s just his instincts were almost entirely at odds with what he was asked to do—which many predicted and that almost anyone who had watched him throughout his career should have known would be the case.
Asked too often to play as a lone striker, Balotelli floundered. He dropped deep when he should have been stretching defences and made himself available for hold-up play when he should have been running channels. He tracked back regularly, showing a commendable workrate without the ball, but in doing so often left Liverpool without a focal point in attack. In the end, the team only suffered for his efforts to fit in.
And so too did Balotelli, who has seen yet another chance to make good on his prodigious talent go to waste. As for Liverpool, it may be a sizeable hit they are set to take on him now—especially if he performs poorly at Milan and they don’t pick up the option next summer—but it’s far from unexpected. This is always how things were going to end up if Balotelli didn’t work out. And it always seemed most likely that he wouldn't.
All told, the striker made 28 appearances for Liverpool last season across all competitions, scoring four goals along the way. If the deal goes through as widely expected, he will return to a Milan side he made 54 appearances for while scoring 30 goals in a season and a half of action.