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Mario Balotelli.

Ajax to pursue Mario Balotelli interest after Champions League progression

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With just four goals in 28 total appearances over two years, it is safe to say that Mario Balotelli's Liverpool career hasn't exactly been a success.

The controversial striker has never settled on Merseyside after arriving for £16 million back in 2014, and spent last season out on loan at former club AC Milan. Indeed, the Anfield club have been desperate to get rid of Balotelli for some time now but, so far, have failed to find a buyer.

Events over the past 48 hours, however, have done much to increase the chances of the Italian leaving Liverpool this summer, according to the Daily Mail.

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Ajax have been linked to Balotelli for over a week now but were believed to be holding back on making any official approach because of their precarious Champions League status.

Now, though, per the Mail's report today, the Dutch giants are set to step up their interest in the 25-year-old after progressing to the final stage of qualifying for European football's premier competition thanks to a 2-1 win over PAOK on Wednesday night.

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Balotelli, who managed just three goals in 23 appearances for Milan last season, is thought to be attracted by a move to Ajax if Champions League football is on offer.

While the Amsterdam club may be moving closer to ending Balotelli's Liverpool nightmare, there are still a few issues standing in their way.

Issues

Firstly, although Ajax progressed through the competition's latest qualifying stage this week, they are still one two-legged tie away from confirming their place in the group stage. If they fall at the final hurdle, their interest in Balotelli could also be extinguished.

Added to that are potential issues with the Italian striker's wages. He is currently picking up £90,000-per-week at Anfield, but the Dutch side aren't thought to want to break a wage structure that would limit their contract offer to around £40,000.

AC Milan v AS Roma - Serie A

There is hope, though, that Balotelli is willing to cut his wages in half just so that he can find a way out of Liverpool and, hopefully, get some regular first team football.

With Jurgen Klopp having made it very clear to the much-maligned forward that he has no future on Merseyside - he trained with the under 21s while the first-team were on tour in the U.S. - the former Manchester City man doesn't exactly have much choice.

As such, he will be paying extremely close attention to how Ajax get on when the draw for the final Champions League qualifying stage takes place this morning.

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Topics:
Ajax
Steven Gerrard
UEFA Champions League
Football
Liverpool
Daniel Sturridge
Mario Balotelli
Philippe Coutinho

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