Liverpool are reportedly willing to let AC Milan buy Mario Balotelli for just £5.5 million this summer—substantially less than his reported £16 million fee, per BBC Sport—but even that cut-price offer is more than the Rossoneri are prepared to pay.
According to Italian outlet Calciomercato (h/t Liam Corless of the Daily Mirror), Milan are unwilling to keep the striker beyond his loan deal in the summer.
After struggling to make a positive impact at Anfield following his arrival in the summer of 2014, the Italy international was allowed to return to Serie A on loan.
Italian football writer Adam Digby noted at the start of the season that the 25-year-old has the chance to shine for his national side, provided he is willing to put the work in and recapture his earlier form:
If Mario Balotelli has changed/grown up/turned over a new leaf, he's got to look at that Italy squad & know how easy it is to be great again— Adam Digby (@Adz77) August 29, 2015
The other strikers have 47 caps & six goals between them. Balotelli has 13 in 33 games. All yours Mario, if you want it.— Adam Digby (@Adz77) August 29, 2015
Balotelli scored on his first start for the Rossoneri in September, but he soon endured a torrid time after suffering a hernia injury that required surgery.
In December, his compatriot, Marco Verratti, neatly summed up his situation, per journalist David Amoyal:
Verratti:"Balotelli has potential to be amongst best strikers in world. But he needs to understand many teams are tired of waiting for him"— David Amoyal (@DavidAmoyal) December 27, 2015
The striker returned to action in January and once again scored in his first start—the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final against Alessandria—coolly tucking away a penalty to win the game 1-0, though he also missed a golden opportunity to score another.
Balotelli has long been a source of frustration, with his enormous potential so frequently wasted due to problems with his attitude and level of application.
Due to his injury, it's unfair to judge him on his goal tally so far this season. However, if Balotelli can stay fit and is determined to rediscover his form, Milan may well be prepared to take him on board permanently—or perhaps he may have a future at Anfield after all.
Should Liverpool keep Sturridge?
The Reds have also had problems with another of their strikers, Daniel Sturridge, as the Englishman is proving to be a proverbial glass cannon. The former Chelsea forward is a proven and prolific goalscorer, but he has seen his career blighted by injuries—particularly in the last two seasons.
According to the Guardian's Gerard Meagher, Newcastle United are prepared to gamble £30 million to bring Sturridge to St. James' Park in a record deal this summer.
The 26-year-old has netted 45 times for Liverpool in 73 outings, but football writer Dave O'Connell revealed why the Magpies may want to think twice about splashing the cash:
Klopp does not sound hopeful that Sturridge is going to return any time soon. Can't seem to get a few days training without an issue.— Dave O’Connell (@DaveOCKOP) January 29, 2016
Since Sturridge moved to Anfield three years ago he has been unavailable for 54.8per cent of his time at the club. (Paul Joyce)— Dave O’Connell (@DaveOCKOP) January 29, 2016
Kevin Palmer of the Sunday World believes now might be the time for the Reds to part ways with Sturridge, a view O'Connell can understand:
@DaveOCKOP The Sturridge news is interesting tonight pal. I think they should try and get rid if they can— Kevin Palmer (@kpsundayworld) February 4, 2016
@kpsundayworld that is true. If I knew he would be inj the majority of the time I'd let him go. You're right though, always inj prone.— Dave O’Connell (@DaveOCKOP) February 4, 2016
With Michael Owen's frustrating injury problems likely to still be fresh in the minds of the Toon Army, Sturridge's arrival on Tyneside wouldn't likely be welcomed unless he came fairly cheap and earned his wages based on appearances made.
Ultimately, though, even if the striker does decide to move on from Liverpool—which he may not—he could probably attract a bigger club to take a risk on him than Newcastle.