Brendan Rodgers has admitted that the future of Mario Balotelli remains unclear, and that it was up to the striker if he stayed or left the club this summer.
The Italian endured a rough first season back in the Premier League after joining Liverpool from AC Milan last year, and there have since been calls for Rodgers to sell him on.
Rodgers on Balotelli
The acquisition of Danny Ings and the theory that Christian Benteke will soon follow has piled more speculation at the foot of the rumour-mill, although Rodgers appears to be OK with the idea of giving Balotelli a second chance.
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Speaking whilst with the club on their preseason tour of South East Asia and Australia, the Northern Irishman implied that Balotelli, who takes home £80,000-a-week, can leave if he wants, though didn’t say that he was definitely going to be sold.
"I’m not sure (whether he has a future), that will entirely be up to Mario. He is working hard to get fit and we will see when the season begins," Rodgers said.
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No official bids
According to the Daily Mail, whilst there has been interest in the 24-year-old’s signature there’s been no concrete offer forthcoming from any suitors.
Serie A outfit Sampdoria are believed to be the most interested in pursuing a deal, but since Balotelli has two years left on his contract they’ll have to pay a fee close to the £16million Rodgers splashed out last summer.
What makes it interesting is that Balotelli has remained in England with players who are known to be deemed surplus to requirements. Full-back Jose Enrique and striker Fabio Borini are amongst those who have been left behind, and if either man remains at Anfield past the summer it will be a surprise.
Now, whilst Balotelli’s absence can be put down to the fact that he missed the beginning of preseason due to a family bereavement, the issue that he has no chance to impress Rodgers on tour doesn’t bode well for him. The 24-year-old managed to find the back of the net just once in the Premier League last term, and so he can’t rely on his previous record either.
The Sterling incident
What’s more the former Manchester City man evoked the ire of the Liverpool faithful earlier this week by tweeting his support for Raheem Sterling, who coincidentally engineered his own move to the Etihad Stadium, falling out with the club in the process.
Whilst that isn’t likely to factor into Rodgers’ ultimate decision when it comes time to choose whether he stays or goes, it’s confirmation that Balotelli is running out of friends on Merseyside. The question remains, should he be given another bite of the cherry?
Liverpool fans, what do you think? Is Balotelli good enough to lead your line or should he be sold if Benteke arrives? Let us know in the comments box below.