Mario Balotelli is firmly within the moment of truth, as far his Liverpool career is concerned.
Brendan Rodgers said Wednesday that Balotelli would determine his own future and refused to guarantee the Italian striker a place in Liverpool’s first-team squad this season, according to the Guardian. Rodgers excluded Balotelli from Liverpool’s 2015 preseason tour, and his decision suggests he doesn’t plan to use Balotelli much, if at all, in the upcoming campaign. Rodgers revealed his apparent ambivalence toward Balotelli at his press conference in Malaysia, where Liverpool currently is for the final stop on its voyage around the Far East, Southeast Asia and Australia.
“Mario is obviously not on tour but working hard and training well with a number of other players at Melwood,” Rodgers said, according to the Guardian.
A reporter then asked if Balotelli would still play for Liverpool when the transfer window closes Sept. 1. Rodgers responded by saying Balotelli would decide whether he stays or goes.
“I’m not sure, that will entirely be up to Mario,” Rodgers said, according to the Guardian. “He is working hard to get fit and we will see when the season begins.”
Balotelli joined Liverpool last August to great fanfare, but his Anfield career quickly began to sputter. Balotelli only managed to score four goals in 28 games in his debut season at Liverpool, and many believe Rodgers will try to recoup some of the £16 million ($25 million) the Reds paid AC Milan for his services.
Liverpool this month has added Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Danny Ings to a reconstructed forward corps, which already includes Daniel Sturridge. Balotelli and compatriot Fabio Borini are believed to be surplus to Rodgers’ requirements for the 2015-16 season, in which Liverpool will participate in four competitions.
A potential transfer fee and Balotelli’s salary demands are stumbling blocks to his potential exit. Balotelli reportedly earns around £110,000 a week (or £5.7 million/$9 million a year) under terms of his Liverpool contract, which expires after the 2016-17 season. Few teams in England, Europe or beyond have the capacity — or willingness — to pay a similar wage for one of the sport’s mavericks-turned-enigmas.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@talkSPORT
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