Liverpool are said to be preparing a £12 million bid to sign Radamel Falcao on loan for the season, while Mario Balotelli could also be brought in on a temporary basis, according to reports.
Brendan Rodgers' search for a new striker looks to be intensifying after the Reds' disappointing attacking display against Southampton. He needs a replacement for Luis Suarez—a player who can notch 30 goals a season in the Premier League—and appears to be eyeing the world-class quality of Monaco's prolific forward as his first choice.
French radio station RMC, reported via the Metro, suggests Rodgers will use an expensive temporary move for Falcao to provide Liverpool with leverage while trying to land the Colombian permanently. "Rodgers is offering a £12 million loan fee with Liverpool also keen to insert a clause meaning they can sign him for £31 million next summer," reads Metro's translation.
Which striker should Liverpool try to sign?
Falcao has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid. Rodgers was previously alleged to have been told it's "Madrid or nothing" for the player, reported by Chris McKenna of the Daily Star. A loan move would facilitate this, as the European champions could return with a mega bid next summer if Falcao joins the English team for 12 months.
Monaco may also be tempted to let the 28-year-old regain some of his worth abroad after injury ruled him out for most of last season. Falcao's immense quality ensures he isn't a risk—he has proven to be a prolific goalscorer at Porto, Atletico Madrid and in France—meaning his acquisition would be one of the summer's best if Liverpool can pull the deal off.
More of a risk is the potential move for Balotelli. Fox Sports previously provided comments where Rodgers "categorically" denied the Italian "will not be at Liverpool," but the latest reports suggest this stance has changed, per Sky Sports:
Sky Sources: Liverpool in talks to sign AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli. #SSNHQ— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) August 21, 2014
John Percy of The Telegraph notes Rodgers' "increasing desperation" in trying to land a new striker, an occurrence that has led the Northern Irishman to contemplate a loan deal that could be ended "immediately" if Balotelli misbehaves.
Simon Jones of the Daily Mail says Mino Raiola, the player's agent, has "has flown to England to ascertain what Liverpool want to do and see if other English clubs are interested." Milan CEO Adriano Galliani stated, "at this time we have not received any offer from Liverpool for Balotelli," per Gazzetta dello Sport and via Ben Burrows of the Mirror.
Many will question the sense of bringing Balotelli in. Despite being a match-winner when fully focused, the striker's career-long history of bad press isn't what Liverpool need after Suarez's departure.
Balotelli's relationship with the English media is poor and would likely continue deteriorating if he returns to the Premier League. Although Balotelli is often lethal in front of goal, Rodgers must question whether he is worth the hassle.
Sky Italia journalist Gianluca Di Marzio believes "Milan would only move Balotelli on a straight sale," something Tony Barrett of the Times indicates is a possibility:
Now it appears a permanent deal could be on the table. Talks are ongoing but still at an early stage.— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) August 20, 2014
While it's obvious which forward the majority of fans would like to see on Merseyside, both Falcao and Balotelli have the qualities to sharpen the Reds' attack alongside Daniel Sturridge. Rodgers appears ambitious enough to compete for the biggest names and would be underlining Liverpool's recent improvements by landing Monaco's expensive star.
Balotelli has the potential of being a coup—if the Liverpool boss is able to halt the player's natural urge to cause trouble. Either way, Anfield followers can expect to see a new frontman arrive before the transfer window slams shut on Sept. 1.