Liverpool, according to a report from the Italian media, have submitted a surprise late transfer window bid for the services of AC Milan and former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.
Dov Rawson of 101 Great Goals notes that Sport Mediaset is claiming the Anfield giants have officially submitted a £17.5 million offer for the controversial star, as Brendan Rodgers looks to fill the hole left by Luis Suarez.
Rawson writes that Balotelli would be open to opportunities at other clubs but that the San Siro club would be looking for a fee of no less than £20 million.
The fact that Sport Mediaset is owned by Milan supremo Silvio Berlusconi adds extra credibility to the claims, as noted by David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News.
But the report, at this stage, must be treated with a degree of scepticism after Rodgers recently denied unequivocally any approach for the Italy international, per ESPN:
I can categorically tell you Balotelli will not be at Liverpool. In my last press conference I was asked a question about Balotelli and I talked about what a talent he was and what an excellent player he was.
And the next day it was wrote as if we were signing him, which doesn't surprise me. I just gave my perception of him as a player. It shouldn't be transmitted in to us signing the player.
Football Italia reports that Milan's TV station has attempted to pour cold water on the story, claiming no bid has been forthcoming from Liverpool for the player:
Balotelli had mixed times during his stay in England with City but came away with a Premier League winner's medal to his name.
Last season, he featured for a Milan team chasing former glories but coming up incredibly short, as the side's Serie A campaign collapsed.
The 24-year-old still managed to provide a good statistical return for his club despite their disappointments, with Balotelli scoring 14 times in 25 Serie A starts, per WhoScored.com, and also providing six assists.
But if Balotelli arrived at Anfield, he might bring similar levels of controversy that Suarez did, without the world-class performances on the pitch.
Wednesday's report arrives at a time when Rodgers is clearly looking for a striker to support Daniel Sturridge, and two other strikers in the Liverpool manager's thoughts are Radamel Falcao and Samuel Eto'o.
BeIN Sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri claims Falcao is pushing for a transfer away from Monaco and that Liverpool is a possible destination for the attacker, who has recently returned from serious injury.
Falcao is personally pushing for a transfer from Monaco and asking club to let him go. He is ready to cut part of his wages 1/2— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) August 20, 2014
Following clubs contacted Falcao;in order of chances to sign him: Manchester City,Real Madrid,Liverpool,Manchester United,Juventus,Inter 2/2— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) August 20, 2014
Bleacher Report's Elko Born also says Eto'o has a choice between joining the Reds or Ajax, and that his future will be decided shortly:
Ajax have set a 5pm deadline for the contract they offered Samuel Eto'o last week. Still looks like it's between Ajax and Liverpool.— Elko Born (@Elko_B) August 20, 2014
There is no doubt that Falcao would be a sensational signing by Rodgers, and he would certainly fill the boots of Suarez.
The Colombian striker is one of the premier talents in Europe, and he might feel there is a space for him at Liverpool, for him to make himself a cult hero like Suarez was.
He would bring a fear factor back to Liverpool that was witnessed last season and allow Rodgers to play with the attacking style that he did in 2013-14.
Liverpool's first match of the campaign saw Rodgers forced to play more defensively, including Lucas in his midfield to protect. But the tactic nearly backfired as a resilient Southampton team knocked hard on the door.
Would Mario Balotelli be a success at Liverpool?
Falcao would scare any opponent that Liverpool played, and his presence would take the pressure off the younger talents of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.
Eto'o would be a useful squad addition to Liverpool, as he was for Chelsea last year. His ability to play up front would give Rodgers cover for Sturridge, but his knowledge of wider positions would also help deliver a more cultured attack.