Mario Balotelli sidelined for three months with hernia problem
Balotelli hits the deck for Milan (photo: reuters)

Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli has been ruled out of action for around three months, after it was revealed that he requires a hernia operation to cause a problem that has troubled him for some time.

On loan at Serie A side AC Milan, Balotelli hasn't played since September. He hadn't made a brilliant start before that, scoring just once in four games, in a 3-2 victory over Udinese.

That's only a quarter of the goals he scored during a frustrating first season on Merseyside, as the Italian bagged just four times in 28 appearances, leading to him being loaned back to his former club.

What happens to Balotelli now?

It had been hoped that Milan, or another European club would snap him up at the end of this loan spell, with the Reds hoping to recoup the £16million they paid for him back in 2014, a transfer which Brendan Rodgers was criticised for as being a 'panic buy'.

However, it's looking unlikely that Milan, who are under no obligation to purchase him at the end of the loan, will be looking to buy him due to his poor performances. Adding to this, they've already got other talents in attack, coming from the likes of Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca.

This means that Liverpool, unless they take a surprising decision to keep the striker, will look to offload him to other clubs, with a cheaper fee than the one they paid likely.

For Balotelli personally, the injury will land a blow to his hopes of representing the Italian national team at next years European Championships. He shone at Euro 2012, scoring three goals including a semi final double over current World Champiosn Germany, as Italy made the final, but it's looking more and more unlikely that he'll play a major role in France next year.