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SBD Global/August 22, 2014/Franchises

Premier League Side Liverpool Agrees To $27M Fee For AC Milan Striker Mario Balotelli

Liverpool had a £16M ($27M) bid "accepted by AC Milan for Italy striker Mario Balotelli," according to Simon Jones of the London DAILY MAIL. Balotelli is thought to want £125,000 ($207,000) a week to move to Anfield "and the transfer is nearly complete, subject to personal terms." Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers said that "Liverpool would categorically not be signing the errant Italy striker last month, but has had a change of heart." Samuel Eto'o "is still an option for Liverpool should the Balotelli deal fall through, for any reason" (DAILY MAIL, 8/21). The London TELEGRAPH reported Balotelli confirmed that "he is leaving AC Milan." Balotelli "confirmed to journalists in Italy on Thursday morning that he would be leaving the club" he joined from Man City last year. Balotelli: "This is my last day in Milan, my last day at Milanello." Milan said on its website on Thursday afternoon that "Balotelli had bid farewell to his team-mates before leaving training." A club statement said, "Mario Balotelli left Milanello's sporting centre at 1.30pm (local time), after saying goodbye to his team-mates" (TELEGRAPH, 8/21). The BBC reported 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 (BBC, 8/21). GOAL's Richard Jolly wrote the "good news" for Liverpool is that Balotelli "has never bitten anyone on a football field." He "has thrown darts at youth-team players, paid an impromptu visit to a women’s prison and gatecrashed an Inter Milan press conference" while a Man City player, but he "has never mistaken an opponent for a snack." The "madness of Mario rarely involves malice." His antics "can be amusing and are sometimes stupid but he is not the second Luis Suarez." That "is both a compliment and a criticism." Balotelli "presents a test" of Rodgers' man-management and coaching skills. If the risks are high, "the rewards could be colossal." Players such as Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling "have improved exponentially under Rodgers' tutelage." Balotelli "may be more gifted than any" (GOAL, 8/21).

BALOTELLI 'BAGGAGE': In London, Chris Bascombe wrote to go from Suárez to Balotelli "is not so much from frying pan to fire as from blazing inferno to extreme solar storm." The Uruguayan who, for all his talents, "was privately described as 'a massive headache,'" had vacated the building "only to replaced by the only player in world football with more baggage than Heathrow and JFK combined." Balotelli "has been available all summer and with all other options (apparently) exhausted, it is fair to say Rodgers has been convinced of the merits of assuming the role of babysitter, social worker, psychiatrist and fire safety officer in between his usual duties as a football manager" (TELEGRAPH, 8/21). Also in London, James Orr wrote Balotelli "was never out of the news." Here are "the best reactions to the stunning move from the internet" (INDEPENDENT, 8/21).
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