To say things have escalated quickly when it comes to the potential transfer to Liverpool of one Mario Balotelli would be an understatement. Yesterday, AC Milan were claiming a bid hadn't been made. The day before, nobody was seriously considering him a Liverpool target. Today, the club have agreed a £16M fee for Balotelli and the player has flown to England to discuss terms.
Italian reports of him having said goodbye to his teammates have spread, and multiple reporters with ties to Liverpool have confirmed on their end that a deal is nearly done to bring the 24-year-old striker and controversy magnet to Anfield. Earlier talk of a loan deal with an option to buy is now off the table and it is believed the club are discussing the details of a five-year deal with the player.
The signing of Balotelli will bring a potentially world class talent to the club, but also one that has been stalled on potentially for years now. It will also bring a player surrounded by as much controversy—albeit contoversy of a slightly different flavour—as Luis Suarez in to replace the now departed Uruguayan front man. It will fall to Brendan Rodgers, somehow, to find a way to make it work.
Others have tried, including Jose Mourinho. All have so far failed. And the signs point to Balotelli not being a player Rodgers or the club were interested in signing as recently as last week. He seems almost certain to join the club now, though, and Liverpool's success or failure this season may come down to whether his new manager can succeed where nobody else has been able to.
If he can, it could be a memorable, masterful signing the club have as good as been forced into after Loic Remy's failed medical and the failure to land multiple targets with the transfer window nearing its close. If he can't, Balotelli will go down as something of a panic buy, one that on evidence seems more likely to implode spectacularly—perhaps taking Liverpool's chances with him—as to succeed.
Balotelli would need to be registered with the league by Friday in order to be eligible to face Manchester City on Monday.