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Football: Liverpool seal Balotelli transfer swoop


In this file picture taken on June 4, 2014, Italy's forward Mario Balotelli looks on during the friendly football match against Luxembourg at the Renato Curi stadium in Perugia.Photo - AFP

London: Liverpool completed their signing of AC Milan's Italy striker Mario Balotelli on Monday.

Balotelli, 24, emerged as a target for Reds manager Brendan Rodgers last week and Liverpool had been locked in talks with the former Manchester City star's agent since agreeing a reported £16 million fee with Milan.

Those negotiations reached a successful conclusion on Monday and Balotelli's move was confirmed just hours before his new club face his old employers City in a Premier League clash at Eastlands.

"Liverpool can confirm they have completed the signing of Italy striker Mario Balotelli, subject to registration," a statement on the club's website announced.

"The 24-year-old sealed his switch to Anfield from AC Milan after passing a medical and agreeing a long-term deal to become the Reds' ninth signing of the summer so far."

Balotelli is not eligible to feature against City, but he could travel to Manchester to watch the match after completing a one-on-one training session with the Reds' head of conditioning and fitness Ryland Morgans at the club's Melwood base.

In a club statement on Liverpool's website, Balotelli said: "I'm very happy. We've been talking about coming here and now I'm happy to be here.

"Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England and the football is very good here.

"It's a great team with young players, and that's why I came here."

Balotelli, who will wear the number 45 shirt, is believed to have agreed a three-year, heavily incentivised £90,000-per-week contract as he returns to the Premier League after a troubled 18-month spell with Milan, where he often endured racial abuse from opposing fans.

He scored 30 goals in 54 appearances for Milan, but the Italian outfit were still willing to accept Liverpool's offer for the controversial star, who has netted 13 times for Italy, including the winner
against England at the recent World Cup.

Balotelli's arrival on Merseyside represents a major gamble given his reputation as one of the sport's most notorious bad-boys.

As well as dazzling with some spectacular goals, Balotelli has also infuriated a series of managers during a chaotic career which has included spells with Inter Milan, City and AC Milan, as well as with the Italy national side.

He clashed with Jose Mourinho on numerous occasions at Inter and also fell out with Roberto Mancini at City, with his eventual sale to Milan in 2013 prompted by a training ground fight with the then City boss.

Rodgers initially ruled out a move for Balotelli during the club's pre-season tour of the United States and he is believed to have asked for the player's contract to include strict clauses about his behaviour on and off the pitch.

But the desire to land a top-class replacement for Luis Suarez, who was sold to Barcelona before the start of the season, persuaded Rodgers to sanction the deal for Balotelli, who won the Premier League and FA Cup during his time at City and also lifted the Italian title three times with Inter.

And Rodgers was quick to play down any fears of problems with Balotelli as he welcomed his new striker to Anfield.

"This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here," he said.

"There is no doubting Mario's ability; he is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level.

"He has scored goals in the Premier League, in Italy, in the Champions League and for his country at international level.

"I believe we have the infrastructure, culture and environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential.

"We are a strong group here, committed to hard work and he will benefit from being around it.

"I am looking forward to working with him and helping him learn more, improve and progress as a player."

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