Liverpool have reportedly been gifted new hope in their aim to offload Mario Balotelli this summer after Ajax emerged as new candidates to recruit the striker. Elsewhere, the Reds have received mixed news in their pursuit of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
According to Sky Italia (h/t TalkSport), Eredivisie giants Ajax are now among the list of candidates considering a move for Balotelli, although they've yet to make any contact over a move.
Balotelli is back at Anfield after scoring just one goal in 20 Serie A appearances on loan at AC Milan last season, and manager Jurgen Klopp doesn't look as though he has any major plans for the Italian forward.
The 25-year-old has reportedly yet to return to Merseyside for pre-season training, and his prospects were said to have been cast into further doubt after the Sun provided images of the player smoking while on holiday:
The Sun Football ⚽ @TheSunFootball
Mario Balotelli's search for a new club on the rocks as he's caught smoking on Italian coast https://t.co/HDMzxfx650 https://t.co/Q7b6GRiMmN2016-8-2 00:43:01
Balotelli is largely regarded as one of European football's most contentious figures, and it's been two years since he scored 18 goals in 41 games for Milan during the 2013-14 campaign, prompting a £16 million move to Liverpool.
His career has endured a downward dive in recent years, and Liverpool writer Jim Boardman joked that the player might be better off considering a future between the posts:
Jim Boardman @JimBoardman
Has anyone ever tried Balotelli in goal?2016-7-29 19:13:36
After seeing the attacker struggle to regain his best form at the San Siro last season, the Reds may be reluctant to let Balotelli leave on loan again this season, meaning Ajax may have to come up with a permanent solution instead.
Meanwhile, reported Liverpool target Ter Stegen "could leave" Barcelona this summer, according to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung (h/t TalkSport), but conflicting reports have suggested otherwise.
The player is back in Catalonia for pre-season training and posted a picture of himself in Barcelona colours on Thursday, seemingly excited for the new campaign to get underway:
Marc ter Stegen @mterstegen1
Preparing for a long season! 🏃🏼⚽️👋🏻 https://t.co/u7epjCmk5f2016-8-4 15:49:55
Furthermore, Barca manager Luis Enrique responded in a positive manner to claims Ter Stegen could leave, per Metro's Coral Barry: "I’m not the least bit worried. We are dealing with the issue with absolute normality, we have three [Stegen, Claudio Bravo and Jordi Masip] great goalkeepers under contract, who behave in a perfect manner."
Klopp has been linked with a move for former Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Ter Stegen since arriving at the Liverpool helm, but it now looks as though all parties may be happy for the stopper to stay at the Camp Nou.