Mario Balotelli looks set to return to Liverpool this summer despite being desperate to stay at AC Milan.
Chief executive Adriano Galliani said the player is unlikely to earn a permanent deal at the San Siro simply because he has fallen well short of what was expected of him.
The Italy international has scored just three times in 17 games for the Serie A outfit, leaving AC Milan with no other choice but to send him back to Anfield when his loan deal expires.
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Galliani told reporters: "We really like Mario, but he has to convince us to earn a permanent deal.
"Mario is feeling well. He is desperate to stay here at Milan. But like I have said before, he does not merit a permanent deal at the moment."
Prior to his move to Liverpool, the 25-year-old had experienced his best spell of form at the Rossoneri between 2013 and 2014. He scored 30 goals in 54 appearances, leading to Liverpool's ill-fated gamble.
Balotelli was sent to AC Milan on a season-long loan by Brendan Rodgers last summer after failing to establish himself during a poor season in the Premier League. The striker scored just four times across all competitions for the Reds, clearly failing to justify the £16m they spent on him.
There was a suggestion that new manager Jurgen Klopp would give Balotelli a chance to prove himself in pre-season but his reluctance to work hard up front leaves him at odds with the German's philosophy.
Also, Klopp has a plethora of striking talent already available to him. Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke have all been competing for a place while Roberto Firmino has also been used as a central attacker in recent games. To boot, Danny Ings is set to return from his knee injury in the summer and will be fit when the new campaign gets underway.
Selling him on
Liverpool's biggest problem will be finding a buyer. Balotelli is a much-maligned character in the football world and there is no chance of them clawing back the £16m they paid for him. His £90,000-a-week wages will also prove a stumbling block for any interested party.
No club in the Champions League will be interested in signing him but no club outside it will be able to afford his wages. Perhaps China is calling?
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