Mario Balotelli is not in Liverpool’s plans for the coming season. Brendan Rodgers has said it’s up to the striker if he stays or goes, but it’s clear after being left behind for the pre-season tour and not included for either of last weekend’s games, if he stays he won’t be seeing the pitch very often. There are even rumours he’s been sent to train away from the main squad with Fabio Borini and Jose Enrique.
The choice, then, is clear—even if it makes Rodgers’ statements seem disingenuous at absolute best. Balotelli can stay at Liverpool and not play football. Or he can go somewhere else and maybe get a chance to salvage his career a year after Liverpool panicked and brought him in late in the window after missing out on their primary striker targets. It’s really not much of a choice. The only question, then, is who might take him.
Lazio have been linked before and would seem about the best he could hope for this season, and today they are again rumoured to be considering a bid. That bid, however, depends on them qualify for the Champions League. Right now, they’re in the draw for the final qualification round with the games set for August 18th and 25th. The likes of Monaco, CSKA Moscow, Sportin Lisbon, and Manchester United are all possibilities.
If they qualify, or at least so the rumours go, they would go forward with a £1.5M loan bid with an option to buy Balotelli outright for £12.5M at the end of the season. It is not clear yet, if the rumour is even true, whether the purchase option would be mandatory or at Lazio’s discretion. And either way, it’s leaving it awfully late—until the final week of the transfer window—to find out if Lazio would even want Balotelli.
If another potential suitor can be found, then, it wouldn’t be surprising for Liverpool and the player to jump at a sure thing rather than waiting on a maybe. If nobody else is willing to pay for Balotelli, though, Lazio’s attempts to qualify for the Champions League could suddenly become of key interest for Liverpool, the club’s fans, and Mario Balotelli.
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