Liverpool Transfer Rumours: Latest on Mario Balotelli, Samuel Eto'o and More

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2014

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Mario Balotelli of Italy reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

It's a busy time for Liverpool, with the season just getting underway. But much of the attention this week has been focused off the pitch, as manager Brendan Rodgers tries to make another transfer splash or two before the end of August.

Luis Suarez's departure to Barcelona left a void up top, and a number of high-priced offseason signings haven't done much to deter Liverpool's pursuit of a big-time replacement at striker.

Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling might be able to expect that striker to arrive in the coming days after all.

A crucial fixture against reigning title champs Manchester City on Monday looms as the Reds look to begin the season with six early points. With that said, let's look at the developments that Anfield supporters are really glued into as we enter the weekend.


Mario Balotelli

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 27:  Mario Balotelli #45 of AC Milan signals to teammates against Manchester City during International Champions Cup 2014 at Heinz Field on July 27, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Mario Balotelli's surprise return to the Premier League isn't official as of yet, but it's looking like a matter of hours before the polarizing Italian striker is in Liverpool red.

A day after BBC Sport's Ben Smith reported Liverpool agreed to a £16 million fee with AC Milan for the 24-year-old, BBC Sport revealed on Friday that Balotelli is set to arrive in England for a medical before the move becomes official.

Then, pretty much on cue, came the picture most Reds fans have been waiting forper Mirror Football—Balotelli in Melwood:

Of course, it also can't be denied when discussing Balotelli that he can prove to be a liability at times—both on and off the pitch. Reds fans remember his infamous red card against Liverpool in 2011 while playing for Manchester City, and many off-the-pitch stories sound like scenes from a movie.

That sort of presence replacing Suarez seems like a head-scratcher for those who watched the Uruguayan in Brazil.

However, The Guardian's Andy Hunter reports Rodgers won't complete a move for the Italian striker without him accepting "behaviour clauses" in his new contract.

Reds fans haven't forgotten about this moment from 2011, but they might soon.
Reds fans haven't forgotten about this moment from 2011, but they might soon.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Obtaining Balotelli at any price close to £16 million is a huge steal, but only if he pans out. Flashes of greatness with the Italian national team have wowed world football, but a quick flameout at AC Milan and losing the favor of most of his professional bosses don't bode all that well.

The risk factor jumps off the page the second Balotelli is mentioned, but the Reds are in a much better position to take on such a risk.

The attack is plentiful even with Suarez exiting, and a strong culture created by Rodgers might pay dividends. Plus, young striker Divock Origi will be available next season if needed.

The move hasn't been announced yet, but it's looking like a matter of hours before it becomes official.


Samuel Eto'o

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon kicks the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Mexico and Cameroon at Estadio das Dunas on June 13, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

You thought Liverpool was going to stop pursuing striker depth as the Balotelli move nears its completion? Well, you were wrong.

The Reds are closing in on yet another notable striker with EPL ties, as David Craddock of Goal suggests Samuel Eto'o has chosen to join Liverpool and is meeting with the club for a medical.

Eto'o is available on a free transfer, and his one-year deal could be finished prior to Liverpool's match with Manchester City on Monday.

Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

He won't land in Liverpool without the Reds fighting off their Merseyside rivals, however. Everton entered the race for Eto'o while offering him a two-year deal instead of Liverpool's one-year proposition, per an earlier report from Craddock.

However, he later reported that Eto'o is "excited by the prospect of working" under Liverpool's Rodgers and is nearing a deal with the Reds.

Crafting out some playing time for the 33-year-old shouldn't prove to be too difficult for Rodgers, even with Balotelli's impending arrival. Liverpool have a busy season ahead with top-flight European competition and the Premier League, and his experience would bring a new look to the Liverpool attack.

Eto'o wouldn't be highly utilized in Liverpool, but his availability during busy stretches would be huge and the Reds are only one serious injury away from needing him every match.

The Cameroonian would undoubtedly improve Liverpool's chances of winning trophies in 2014-15.


Radamel Falcao

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

As two doors open, another door closes.

With moves for Balotelli and Eto'o impending, Liverpool have understandably moved out of position for AS Monaco striker Radamel Falcao and AC Milan have taken their place, per Corriere dello Sport (h/t the Daily Express' Charles Perrin).

With Balotelli set to exit Milan, a big hole has opened up at the front of their attack, and the Serie A club looks keen on filling it with the prized Colombian striker.

The 28-year-old has long been on Premier League clubs' radars after breaking out with Atletico Madrid, and his big-money move to Monaco hasn't swayed clubs from keeping pursuit of him. French radio station RMC (h/t the Daily Express' Jamie Anderson) reported Wednesday that Liverpool were prepared for a loan move to acquire Falcao, but the situation has changed quite a bit since then.

It's splitting hairs to decide whether Falcao would be a better option at the moment than Balotelli or Eto'o, but you can't argue with the Reds letting Falcao walk.

Balotelli's youth and Eto'o's experience have the chance to make up for any deficiencies either striker has.

Falcao's move to Liverpool looks to be dead, but most Reds fans won't bat an eye at that considering other recent developments.


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