Liverpool keen to sell Mario Balotelli with Chinese Super League teams lining up moves

Jürgen Klopp has no plans to keep Mario Balotelli at Liverpool when he returns from a season-long loan at AC Milan in May, with several Chinese and Turkish clubs reportedly interested in striking a deal for the Italian striker.

Liverpool keen to sell Mario Balotelli with Chinese Super League teams lining up moves
(Picture: Getty Images)

Liverpool are desperate to offload Mario Balotelli before the start of next season, with Jürgen Klopp having no intention of trying to accommodate the striker into his plans. 

The Italian international signed for the club late in the summer transfer window of 2014 for £16 million, but struggled to adjust to the demands of being a sole striker under Brendan Rodgers - as Liverpool's "gamble", in the words of the Northern Irishman himself, backfired massively.

The No.45 is currently out on a season-long loan at AC Milan, where he has disappointed with a return of just two goals in 11 appearances and as such, the Serie A outfit are highly unlikely to try and make the deal a permanent one.

But the Reds remain confident that a deal could be reached with a Chinese Super League outfit, with a number of clubs from the Far East having enquired about the player's situation.

According to reports, several clubs in Turkey are also said to have shown interest in a potential deal for the 25-year-old, with Liverpool hopeful off having him off the books by the start of pre-season for the 2016-17 campaign despite his contract running until 2017.

No Liverpool future for troubled striker 

Balotelli underwent groin surgery a few months ago and seems to have burned his bridges with boss Sinisa Mihajlovic, who questioned his work rate after an underwhelming late cameo off of the bench in last Sunday's win over Genoa.

"Those who don’t sacrifice themselves for the team to the 94th minute will no longer set foot on the field," he declared after the game, though his agent, Mino Raiola, has looked to quash those rumours by saying there has been no rift between Mihajlovic and Balotelli.

Regardless, Milan aren't expected to want to keep Balotelli beyond May - when his loan expires - and Klopp sees no future for the misfit, currently on around £80,000-a-week at Anfield.

He scored just four goals in 28 appearances last season and could see his future in China, following the likes of Ramires, Fredy Guarin, Gervinho, Jackson Martinez and Liverpool transfer target Alex Teixeira, who broke their most expensive transfer record by signing for Jiangsu Suning for £38 million.

Balotelli scored just once in the Barclays Premier League last year for Liverpool. (Picture: Getty Images)
Balotelli scored just once in the Barclays Premier League last year for Liverpool. (Picture: Getty Images)

His minimal contributions make it likely that Liverpool will make a substantial loss on Balotelli, though the money which Chinese clubs have been spending on players in the winter transfer window suggests they could be willing to pay close to the original fee paid for Balotelli two years ago.

The former Manchester City forward's career on Merseyside had actually started brightly, having shown signs of a potential partnership with Daniel Sturridge on his debut away at Tottenham Hotspur - a game that Liverpool won 3-0.

But Sturridge's injury problems got the better of him for much of the campaign and by his return, Balotelli had run out of opportunities under the previous manager and was unable to fight his way back into the starting eleven, having failed to apply the effort and enthusiasm expected of him.

After the team found success by switching to the more mobile Raheem Sterling up front, Balotelli found himself on the fringes of the first-team and was left out of their pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia.

Rodgers soon forced him to train alone from his teammates because of his disruptive influence before sending him out on loan. And Klopp sees no future for the Italian at the club, highlighting his lack of intensity as a key reason for wanting to move him on.

Reds hoping to earn as much as £90m with naming rights deal

Elsewhere, the Reds are also hoping the Far East will provide another cash windfall for the club as they look to sell on naming rights for the new Main Stand.

The club's chief commercial officer Billy Hogan has held talks in Asia with as many as three interested parties, with a deal likely to be done in the region of £7-9 million a season for the next 10 years.

Owners Fenway Sports Group have ruled out selling the rights to Anfield, but are keen on recouping some of the £120 million spent on the stand's reconstruction by sealing a lucrative contract with a naming rights partner.