By DAN KARELL
Mario Balotelli is officially a Red.
A year and a half after departing Manchester City for his native Italy, Mario Balotelli completed a reported £16 million transfer move to Liverpool, returning to the English Premier League. The club announced the move on Monday and stated that Balotelli will wear No. 45 at Anfield.
“I’m very happy. We’ve been talking about coming here and now I’m happy to be here,” Balotelli said in a press release. “Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England and the football is very good here. It’s a great team with young players, and that’s why I came here.”
Although Balotelli has signed with Liverpool, his registration was not processed in time for him to be available to make his debut against his former club, Man City, in this afternoon’s highly-anticipated match between the two clubs.
While at AC Milan, the 24-year-old Italian international scored 30 goals in 54 appearances in all competitions. Balotelli began last season on a goal-scoring tear but slowed down mightily towards the end of the season. At the 2014 World Cup, Balotelli scored once, the game-winner against England, but was unable to lift Italy out of the group stages.
Balotelli came up as a 15-year-old with Serie C side Lumezzane before making the move in 2007 to Inter Milan, where he stayed through 2010. In the summer of 2010, Balotelli made his first move to England, joining Man City. His two and a half year stay in England was mired by off the field hijinks and poor public relations, though at times Balotelli showed the kind of talent on the field that made him one of the world’s most sought after forwards.
“This transfer represents outstanding value for the club and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here,” the boss told Liverpoolfc.com. “There is no doubting Mario’s ability; he is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level. He has scored goals in the Barclays Premier League, in Italy, in the Champions League and for his country at international level.
“I believe we have the infrastructure, culture and environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential. We are a strong group here, committed to hard work and he will benefit from being around it. I am looking forward to working with him and helping him learn more, improve and progress as a player. I’m sure the supporters will make him feel very welcome.”
Balotelli will be expected to slot in either alongside forward Daniel Sturridge in a 4-4-2 formation or play the center forward role in a 4-3-3 formation, with Sturridge moving out wide. Liverpool were able to afford to make the transfer based on the reported £65 million transfer fee received from Barcelona for forward Luis Suarez this summer.
What do you think of this transfer? Do you see Balotelli scoring plenty of goals in England? Think he is overrated? How do you see him fitting into the team?
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