Liverpool's latest transfer news is centred on the club's attempts to recruit a marquee striker or two to replace departed talisman Luis Suarez. On that note, the deal to sign Italy international Mario Balotelli is one step closer to completion.
However, the news is not so positive regarding a possible expensive loan swoop for the prolific Radamel Falcao. It seems that the Colombian striker may not be so dissatisfied with life at Monaco after all.
Here's the latest on these developments, beginning with Balotelli's imminent contract signing:
Balotelli to Sign Before Manchester City Clash
Balotelli could be a Liverpool player by the time the Reds kick off against his former club Manchester City tonight. Liverpool Echo reporter James Pearce believes the deal will be concluded by then, pending official ratification:
The Italian striker will return to the UK on Monday after spending the weekend back in his homeland.
Balotelli will head for Melwood to put pen to paper on a three-year contract.
Liverpool are then expected to announce the deal subject to his registration with the Premier League as due to the Bank Holiday the paperwork can't be filed until Tuesday.
If everything goes according to plan, Balotelli could link up with Brendan Rodgers' squad at their Manchester hotel and attend Monday night's clash with his former club at the Etihad Stadium.
This an excellent scenario for Liverpool. It's important to get Balotelli back into the Premier League fray as quickly as possible. He already knows the league well and is a player who often produces fast starts for new clubs.
Pearce identifies the away game against Tottenham Hotspur next Sunday as a likely debut for the 24-year-old. Liverpool's gamble on the maverick striker is well-documented.
There's no doubt that manager Brendan Rodgers is signing an attacker capable of winning any game. But it's not just Balotelli's long history of off-field troubles that should concern the Anfield boss.
His consistency, or more specifically the lack of it, should also have Rodgers worried. While Suarez always seemed to produce, Balotelli's best performances are far more sporadic.
But Liverpool need consistency from a main striker. If Balotelli delivers alongside Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, Rodgers could field the most threatening attack in the Premier League.
However, that will only count if the manager can coax the best from Balotelli on a regular basis. It seems fans will soon find out if he can.
Falcao Prefers Monaco Stay
The pressure on Balotelli to toe the line, as well as on Rodgers to improve the player's consistency, has increased after Falcao declared his intention to stay in France.
The Monaco striker made his intentions known in a post-match interview with French TV (h/t GianlucaDiMarzio.com):
The Colombian spoke to Canal + after the match: 'Today’s victory was an important one, especially since we were playing an excellent team like Nantes. The future? I hope to stay, I’m happy here.'
This is a minor blow for Liverpool, but not a fatal one. The club had been linked with a very pricey loan deal for the striker, per RMC (h/t Daily Express writer Jamie Anderson):
According to French radio station RMC Liverpool chiefs have given the green-light for an audacious season-long loan deal worth £12m.
The offer would include an automatic purchase clause of £40m after the conclusion of the Colombian's loan.
In one sense, securing Falcao would have provided valuable insurance against Balotelli acting out, something that seems inevitable. However, a quality finisher like Falcao is nobody's insurance. The 28-year-old's talents would demand inclusion in the starting 11.
That might not sound like a problem for a squad re-entering the UEFA Champions League, with a manager as tactically flexible as Rodgers. Yet Sturridge and Sterling remain key players in how Liverpool craft and convert chances.
Specifically, their pace and movement frightens defenders out of their wits. They have a vital on-pitch connection that shouldn't be disrupted by the presence of too many new arrivals.
Aside from the pending deal for Balotelli, Rodgers has already added target man Rickie Lambert, as well as forward Lazar Markovic. At the proposed cost of this loan deal, Rodgers shouldn't further bloat his attacking ranks, even for Falcao.
Liverpool's transfer recruitment drive can be brought to a stop following Balotelli's signing. That will certainly complete the revamp of the club's attack.
Perhaps only an additional centre-back would be needed to let Rodgers walk away from this window a very happy man.
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