No Premier League team has been as active in the 2014 summer transfer window as Liverpool, and per the latest reports, Brendan Rodgers may still have a few aces up his sleeve.
The Reds filled all of their needs in the early stages of the transfer window but won't turn down the chance to sign talent, and the news coming out of Anfield is that they're doing just that.
Here's the latest buzz on Liverpool's final summer signings as we enter the final week of the 2014 summer transfer window.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you're already aware of the fact the enigmatic Italian is close to joining the Reds from AC Milan for a reported fee of £16 million.
According to the Liverpool Echo's Ian Doyle, Balotelli has completed his medical and could sign for Liverpool as early as Monday. Regardless of the timetable, he won't be eligible to face former club Manchester City on Monday.
Super-agent Mino Raiola is known as one of the best when it comes to the transfer market, and he acknowledged his client isn't a born leader and is facing his last chance at success with the Reds, as reported by Doyle:
Mario played well for six or seven months, giving a decisive push for them to enter the Champions League. But then you could see he is not ready to be a leader. Will he ever be a leader? It’s not mandatory that every player has to be a leader.
I sought out for him a team where he can be an important element without being asked to be a leader. Liverpool have Steven Gerrard. There Mario will be protected and can give his best.
Now it’s up to him. Another flop is inadvisable...Not everyone is born to be a leader and a good striker is not always a leader either.
Controversy has followed Balotelli at every single stage of his career, and Milan was seen as the perfect club for him to rebuild his image and mature into the player the likes of Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini envisioned.
While he found some success at the San Siro, more was expected from the striker, who had the entire team playing in service of Super Mario. The Rossoneri had a miserable campaign in 2013-14, and a sulking Balotelli was often singled out as one of the main culprits.
Liverpool represents a fresh start for the 24-year-old, who will now get to play surrounded by attacking talents as adept at scoring as he is. While his talent is undeniable, it'll be up to Balotelli to finally live up to the hype.
Balotelli's arrival means the Reds are no longer interested in the services of veteran striker Eto'o, who will have to turn his attention to a different destination, per Doyle.
Rumours quickly spread that the Cameroon international was undergoing a medical with the Reds, but per Sky Sports' Fabrizio Romano, those reports turned out to be false:
Eto'o was viewed as insurance at the striker position, but with Balotelli, Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert already in the squad and Fabio Borini's insistence on proving himself at Anfield, Rodgers no longer has a need for the veteran forward.
He was Chelsea's most productive striker in 2013-14 but couldn't do enough to convince the Blues to offer him a new deal, and given his high wage demands, it's no surprise Liverpool decided not to further pursue the player.
The trial for highly rated Chilean youngster Mathias Pinto didn't receive much media attention in the wake of the Balotelli news, but the Reds may have bagged one of the world's most underrated talents, per Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas.
The player himself confirmed the news in an interview with El Grafico Chile (h/t to Freitas), displaying a ton of confidence in his own abilities:
I truly feel I am ready to play for the first team. I am aware the tempo is different, but it is up to the player and I hope that more opportunities come my way. I will show that we South Americans are the best players.
They saw me in Bolivia (at the South American U15 Championship in 2013) and I could have gone in March but that didn’t happen due to personal problems. Then they scouted me again and reached an agreement with Universidad de Chile to ensure that the trial became a reality this month.
The 16-year-old winger moves very well and has a surprisingly strong build for such a young player. He's well ahead of the learning curve and has dominated the Chilean youth leagues, leading to his first call-up to Universidad de Chile's senior team this season.
His belief that he's ready for the Reds' first team is hyperbole, however. Pinto is still raw in his positioning and plays a position where the Reds already boast numerous talented youngsters capable of contributing at a Premier League level, so don't expect to see the Chilean in the senior squad anytime soon.
His long-term potential is tantalising, and if he can continue his rapid development, he should have a bright future with the Reds.
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