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Liverpool discuss Balotelli deal with Milan

Mike Whalley and Ben Gladwell | ESPN FC
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Liverpool have held exploratory talks with AC Milan over the possibility of a deal for striker Mario Balotelli.

Via their official television station, Milan announced on Thursday morning that "negotiations with Liverpool regarding the sale of Mario Balotelli are underway." They emphasised that the deal would be a permanent one and not a loan.

If Balotelli, who has scored more Serie A goals than any other player since he joined Milan, completes the move this week he could make his debut against former club Manchester City at the Etihad on Monday evening.

The player's agent Mino Raiola is reported to have flown to England to carry forward the negotiations between his client and Liverpool, although he is also expected to meet with representatives of Arsenal about one of his other clients, Kostas Manolas.

AC Milan say they will not let Mario Balotelli go out on loan © Getty Images
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Earlier this week, Milan chief executive Adriano Galliano said that Liverpool had not made an offer for Balotelli.

On Wednesday night, Sources told ESPN that Liverpool were interested in bringing Balotelli back to the Premier League if an agreement could be struck.

According to Sky Sport Italia, those negotiations are based on a fee of around £16-17.5 million. Should an agreement be reached, Balotelli could fly to Merseyside before the weekend, although Sky Sport Italia reports the player was training as usual with his Milan team-mates on Thursday morning.

The proposal has come as a surprise because manager Brendan Rodgers appeared to rule out any chance of a move for the Italy international on August 3, during Liverpool's pre-season tour of the United States.

However, Rodgers is looking to reshape his forward line following the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona in July.

Daniel Sturridge is Liverpool's first-choice striker and Rickie Lambert arrived from Southampton in June to offer support, but the manager wants to strengthen in attack.

Rodgers said on August 4 that it was "crucial" the club signed another forward before the transfer window closed on September 1.

Free agent Samuel Eto'o, released by Chelsea at the end of last season, is one option that has been considered, as has Monaco's Radamel Falcao.

Balotelli spent two-and-a-half years in England after joining Manchester City from Inter Milan in July 2010.

He helped City end a 35-year wait for a trophy as they lifted the FA Cup in 2011, then set up Sergio Aguero's stoppage-time winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the following Premier League season as the club became champions of England for the first time since 1968.

The 24-year-old was unable to help Italy beyond the group stage as this year's World Cup in Brazil, although he did score the winner as they beat England 2-1 in their opening match.

However, his time at City was also touched with controversy, including incidents in which fireworks were set off in his bathroom at his home and he threw a dart at a youth-team player.

This article originally appeared on ESPN FC

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