It’s difficult to imagine Mario Balotelli ever playing for Liverpool again.
The Italian striker, who flopped in his debut season at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers and is currently on loan at AC Milan, has scored one league goal in 15 Serie A appearances this season.
Jurgen Klopp has been reluctant to talk about Balotelli when asked by journalists since becoming Liverpool manager in October - “at this moment I don't have the time and capacity to think about things for next summer,” he was quoted as saying by ESPN in January - and further weight has been added to the idea that the German coach doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of the striker after quotes emerged in a biography.
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Elmar Neveling’s book on Klopp reveals how the former Borussia Dortmund boss wouldn’t allow a footballer in his squad to play for the club again if they threw a dart at a teammate.
In March 2011, it was revealed - per BBC Sport - that Balotelli had thrown a dart at a youth team player.
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Klopp's thoughts on Balotelli
“Klopp extends this belief in the importance of his team to his refusal to mollycoddle his players,” Neveling writes.
“When the subject of Italy forward Mario Balotelli, who while at Manchester City threw a dart at a youth-team player, came up, Klopp didn’t mince his words: if one of his players pulled a stunt like that ‘they would never wear this club’s shirt again’.
“He won’t get a second chance to make a mistake like that: ‘Look, you might be able to play, but I don’t want to see your face again.’
“‘Not when we’ve got so many lads who are a joy to work with.’”
Klopp will surely sell Balotelli
Given Balotelli’s suspect work ethic and the fact Klopp demands his players give 100 per cent every time they take to the pitch, the idea of the former Man City centre-forward playing upfront for the Reds next season is fanciful.
Speculation is rife that Milan will opt against signing Balotelli on a permanent contract, which means he’ll be heading back to Anfield this summer.
But it would be a genuine surprise if Klopp doesn’t attempt to sell him before the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
Liverpool signed Balotelli for £16 million - a fee that looked a relative bargain at the time, but now feels like a complete waste of money.
The Italian, who scored one Premier League goal for Liverpool last term, is failing to fulfil his potential and his career is in severe danger of entering a downward spiral unless his performances improve.
Does Mario Balotelli have a future at Liverpool? Let us know by leaving a comment below.