Liverpool Transfer News: Mario Balotelli and Marc-Andre ter Stegen Rumours

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 4, 2016

Italian soccer forward Mario Balotelli arrives at AC Milan headquarters, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. AC Milan's vice president Adriano Galliani said the club is in talks with Liverpool about bringing striker Mario Balotelli back to Serie A. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Luca Bruno/Associated Press

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 endured a slow spell on loan at Milan last season.
Balotelli endured a slow spell on loan at Milan last season.Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

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:

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:

Ajax are in the hunt for a new striker after last season's star, Arkadiusz Milik, joined Napoli as a replacement for Gonzalo Higuain, who departed for Juventus in a £75.3 million deal, per BBC Sport.

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.

Germany No. 2 Ter Stegen has been linked with the Barcelona exit.
Germany No. 2 Ter Stegen has been linked with the Barcelona exit.ODD ANDERSEN/Getty Images

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:

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.