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12:00 PM UTC
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Saudi Arabia
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Transfer Rater: Eden Hazard to Real Madrid

Football Whispers

Raiola: Mario Balotelli's last chance

Mario Balotelli's representative Mino Raiola insists that a move to Liverpool could be the striker's last chance to prove himself at the top level, also adding that negotiations have been ongoing for three months.

Balotelli, 24, is on the verge of completing a 16 million pound transfer to Anfield and underwent his medical on Friday night.

However, after inconsistent spells at Inter, Manchester City and AC Milan, Raiola claims that his client is in Last Chance Saloon.

"At the top level, yes," he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper in quotes translated by Football Italia. "Either it works here or it's a bust. If it goes wrong? Mario is 24 years old. He no longer has the alibi of his age."

Raiola also put some of the blame for Balotelli's failure to settle back in Italy on Milan -- claiming that the youngster was under too much pressure to lead the club.

"Milan are a great club and I couldn't have asked for any more from them," he added. "Mario played well for six or seven months, giving a decisive push for them to enter the Champions League. But then you could see he is not ready to be a leader. Will he ever be a leader? It's not mandatory that every player has to be a leader.

"I sought out for him a team where he can be an important element without being asked to be a leader. Liverpool have Steven Gerrard. There Mario will be protected and can give his best. Now it's up to him. Another flop is inadvisable... Not everyone is born to be a leader and a good striker is not always a leader either.

"Mario needs to get this pressure off his shoulders. He must feel free to score goals and that's it."

With rumours of a deal only emerging in the past week, Raiola also claimed that Liverpool have been chasing Balotelli for some time.

"The negotiations have been going on for three months. It's not exactly a scoop," he added. "I'll conclude the transfer on Monday or Tuesday, as there are still a few things to sort out.

"Liverpool have always been the only English club who negotiated for Mario. I never lied to the media. Three days ago there was talk of Liverpool, but no offer. The truth is I've been working on Mario for months: the time had come to divorce from Milan.

"There wasn't any row, incident or change. It's not true that the rapport broke down with Milan. I was always against bringing Mario back to Italy: the pressure, the expectation, the media... Playing in Italy is much tougher for him than abroad.

"He insisted that he wanted to go from Manchester City to Milan and between client and agent, the client always decides."


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