'Balotelli walks alone' - Italian media
While Liverpool fans may be preparing to embrace Mario Balotelli upon completion of his transfer from AC Milan, followers of the Serie A club cannot wait to see the back of him, according to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.
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Balotelli is close to a move to Anfield after the clubs agreed a fee of 16 million pounds and, under the English headline "Balo walks alone," La Gazzetta looks back on what can be regarded as a disappointing return to Serie A for the former Manchester City forward.
"The failure after only 19 months at Milan seems to be the definitive failure, because Milan seemed the ideal shell for finally developing Balotelli's maturity -- the shirt he had dreamt of as a kid, chased and worn even as an Inter player," an editorial read. "We were certain that there, Mario would finally leave the realm of the 'potential' to become the wonderful butterfly that we've been waiting years for.
"Instead, during the last, disastrous World Cup, he divided the Italy dressing room, he disappointed even [Cesare] Prandelli, one of his staunchest supporters, and yesterday he even took off Milan's shirt. He didn't throw it on the floor like he did with Inter's, but it's as if he had."
A poll by La Gazzetta showed that over 80 percent were in favour of Balotelli's sale, such is the low ebb his career has reached, including the World Cup. With never more than 14 goals in the league in a single season, he is now looking to fill the void left by the sale of Luis Suarez, who scored 31 last season.
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Former Italy international Christian Vieri wrote on Twitter that Milan general manager Adriano Galliani has "completed the greatest deal in Milan's history."
Oggi Galliani ha fatto il più grande COLPO della storia del MILAN- ChristianVieri (@vieri_bobo) August 21, 2014
Lega Nord politician Matteo Salvini, meanwhile, posted on Facebook: "Balotelli has left? At last. I really hope he'll be replaced by somebody more humble, more respectful and less well paid."
Former France international Franck Leboeuf also believes Liverpool are making a "mistake."
He told RMC: "It's like when Andy Carroll signed for Liverpool. Balotelli's game is not at all that of the Reds. What's more, you ask yourself what kind of game suits Balotelli. He's an unmanageable bloke. I'm a big fan of Brendan Rodgers. I don't know if it's him who makes the decisions, but Balotelli is unmanageable. Even [ex-City boss Roberto] Mancini, who liked him, got sick of him."
Milan will now seek to bring in a replacement, with Jackson Martinez and Alessio Cerci currently being tipped as leading candidates.
Negotiations with Torino over the latter are already underway and the sale of Balotelli could be the decisive move towards the completion of that deal.
The Porto forward may be a little more difficult to get to, however. According to La Gazzetta, he has a release clause of 30 million euros in his contract, but the Rossoneri are unlikely to want to spend more than they earn from the sale of Balotelli.