Wednesday Kickoff: Balotelli close to shock Liverpool move; Di Maria, Khedira reject extensions; and more

MarioBalotelliACMilan2-Atalanta2014SerieA (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

It looks like Liverpool has found their replacement for Luis Suarez.

According to multiple reports in both England and Italy, Liverpool and AC Milan have agreed a transfer fee for one Mario Balotelli, the mercurial Italian National Team forward. If the transfer goes through it would mean Balotelli’s return to the English Premier League for the first time since Jan. 2013, when he left Manchester City for Milan.

The reports state that Liverpool and AC Milan have agreed on a fee of around €20 million and all that’s left is for Balotelli to give the green light for the move to go ahead. Balotelli reportedly told teammates and journalists at Milan’s training ground on Thursday that it was his final day with the club, pointing to his return back to England.

Earlier this week it was reported that Liverpool were interested in signing Balotelli on loan this season but Milan rejected that offer and said they’d only discuss a permanent transfer.

Although an incredible talent, Balotelli has fallen on hard times recently for both club and country. Last season at Milan, Balotelli got off to a hot start but scored a total of 18 times in 41 games in all competitions, a strike rate lower than everyone had expected.

Here are some more stories to start off your Thursday:

DI MARIA, KHEDIRA HEADING OUT THE DOOR

In a rare moment of honesty, Real Madrid manager revealed to members of the press that Angel Di Maria and Sami Khedira could be on their way out of the club.

At a press conference ahead of the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup, Ancelotti claimed that both Di Maria and Khedira have rejected new contracts, and Di Maria specifically has asked to leave Real Madrid.

Di Maria has been subject to transfer speculation for much of the past year and seemed very close to joining Paris Saint-Germain this summer before the transfer talk cooled due to Financial Fair Play regulations.

Khedira meanwhile is entering the final year of his contract, and with both Arsenal and Bayern Munich interested in the German international, its expected that Real Madrid sell him now before losing him on a free transfer next summer.

CRYSTAL PALACE CONTROVERSY CONTINUES

Crystal Palace were just moments away from hiring Malky Mackay until they stumbled upon some information submitted to the FA.

The FA received a series of documents from a law firm hired by Cardiff City, outlining alleged racist language used between Mackay and now former Crystal Palace director of football, Iain Moody. The pair are now under investigation by the FA and Moody announced his resignation on Thursday morning from his position.

Crystal Palace have withdrawn their offer for Mackay and as things stand, interim manager Keith Millen is expected to manage the team for the second week in a row since the surprise departure of Tony Pulis just three days before the start of the season.

QUICK KICKS

Man United have completed the signing of Marcos Rojo on a five-year contract, paying Sporting Lisbon €20 million in the process. (REPORT)

Edin Dzeko has signed a new four-year contract at Manchester City. (REPORT)

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric has extended his contract through 2018. (REPORT)

Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta is set to miss the next two weeks with a badly sprained ankle. (REPORT)

New Netherlands head coach Guus Hiddink has recalled Gregory van der Wiel a recall to the National Team for a friendly match against Italy and a EURO 2016 qualifier against the Czech Republic. (REPORT)

Swiss international goalkeeper Diego Benaglio has retired from international football at the age of 31. (REPORT)

Man United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has suffered ankle ligament damage after being injured during training this week. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? How do you see Balotelli performing in Liverpool? Do you see him starting alongside Sturridge? Where do you see Di Maria moving to?

Share your thoughts below.

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27 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: Balotelli close to shock Liverpool move; Di Maria, Khedira reject extensions; and more

  1. Sly says:

    United pay 20 million euros for a center back. Liverpool pays that for Mario Balotelli. Its 2 million pounds more than Southampton paid for Shane Long. it also denies Arsenal a back up striker and they may actually go in the season with Sonogo being Girouds backup. No matter what Mario does he wont be getting Suarez suspensions and hes Italy’s number 1. Worth it for the price.

  2. Dave says:

    I can understand Liverpool’s thinking. Mario may be a handful, but after all he’s never *bitten* anybody.

  3. Wood chip zip says:

    Liverpoos just can’t help themselves. They have to have a trouble maker. Good deal though, can’t say I’d turn it down

  4. AC says:

    One crazy for another at Liverpool.

  5. Dace says:

    I’m a Mario fan…his hijinks are always lighthearted, not like biting and racism. Do it, Mario!

    • Fahq says:

      Dude is still immature, difficult to coach and play with, and has a terrible temper. He is a risky move and potential liability, hence the relatively low fee for his age and potential.

      Lighthearted foul here: m.youtube.com/watch?v=pNeYJtxy6iI

  6. Sly says:

    best part is Mario is now on NBC sports rather than Bein.

    • AcidBurn says:

      This x1000. Will be great to add Balotelli to the PL narrative. At least makes LFC games that much more exciting.

      NBCSN should have fun with this one.

  7. petaluman says:

    Maybe I’m wrong here but isn’t it Thursday?

    • Kevin_H says:

      WOW thank you for that. I honestly may have gone through today thinking it’s Wednesday.

    • bryan says:

      classic Dan!

      i skipped right over this article this morning because it didn’t say “thursday.” wasn’t until i saw the link on twitter that i clicked. which is funny because it says “wednesday” there too.

  8. Brain Guy says:

    Don’t stop him, he’s on a roll . . .

  9. Nico C. says:

    If there’s anyone who can handle cartoon characters like Balotelli and Suarez, it’s Brendan Rodgers. He will thrive at Liverpool, just like Suarez, Torres, Owen, and others did before him. Especially if the team is going to be built around him. I am not worried one bit.

  10. John says:

    The Daily Mail must be over the moon. Balo and Fanny? 24/7 Coverage.

  11. Francois says:

    #WhyAlwaysMe?

  12. bryan says:

    …and yesterday i was thinking maybe, just maybe, Di Maria would stay.

  13. Alex H says:

    I love the world of soccer journalism. Yesterday I spent all day driving through the desert with my radio tuned to Sirius FC and all they could say was how the Balotelli to Liverpool talk was complete BS.

    That said, forking over E20 million is a gamble but probably a good one given the need and the upside.

    • Bean says:

      I used to listen to the Counterattack radio show every single day, but have recently quit listening due to their negativity toward Liverpool, and their fascination with MUFC. Used to be a great show! J/K