Mario Balotelli close to Liverpool deal
Mario Balotelli is expected to sign a three-year contract with Liverpool on Monday after persuading manager Brendan Rodgers that he is the right man to bolster their attack.
Balotelli underwent a two-part medical in Manchester and Liverpool on Friday and Saturday after the Reds agreed a 16 million pounds fee with AC Milan.
The Italy striker's reputation for controversy, though, led Liverpool to keep free agent Samuel Eto'o in mind as a backup option going into the weekend.
Rodgers wanted to be certain that Balotelli -- once described as "unmanageable" by his former Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho -- would not upset team spirit at Anfield.
But the 24-year-old, who returned to Italy on Saturday evening following his medical, is due back at Liverpool's Melwood training ground on Monday to complete the paperwork on the transfer, sources have told ESPN FC.
With Monday being a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Balotelli cannot be registered as a Liverpool player with the Premier League until Tuesday.
But he is set to meet his new teammates on Monday before travelling to watch them face his former club Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Reports have suggested that the forward will be paid a basic salary of between 80,000 pounds and 90,000 pounds, a significant drop on the 160,000 pounds weekly salary he is believed to have been earning at AC Milan.
It had been reported Balotelli's contract at Anfield would include a good behaviour clause -- although this has been denied by his agent, Mino Raiola.
Raiola said: "Mario will not have a different contract to the other Liverpool players. He will have to follow the code of conduct of the club, like all the others."
Liverpool have been seeking a top-class striker to strengthen their forward line throughout the summer; a requirement that has become more pressing following the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona on July 16.
An eight million pounds deal for QPR's Loic Remy collapsed on July 27 amid concerns about his medical.
Liverpool initially approached Milan about the possibility of taking Balotelli on loan, but discussions hit a buffer as the Serie A club rejected the idea of a break clause in the deal if the striker misbehaved.
But the Reds were willing to meet Milan's 16 million pounds asking price to buy the player -- significantly less than the 25 million pounds that clubs were being quoted earlier in the summer.
ALL-TIME HIGHEST TRANSFER FEES
1) £85m Gareth Bale -- Tottenham to Real Madrid, Sept. 2013
2) £80m Cristiano Ronaldo -- Man Utd to R. Madrid, June 2009
3) £75m Luis Suarez -- Liverpool to Barcelona, July 2014
4) £71m James Rodriguez -- Monaco to Real Madrid, July 2014
5) £59.7m Angel Di Maria -- Real Madrid to Man Utd, Aug. 2014
6) £56m Kaka -- AC Milan to Real Madrid, June 2009
Balotelli spent two-and-a-half years at Manchester City after joining from Inter Milan in July 2010.
His time at City was also had controversy, including incidents in which fireworks were set off in his bathroom and he threw a dart at a youth-team player, in addition to a public fall-out with manager Roberto Mancini.
However, he helped City end a 35-year wait for a trophy as they lifted the FA Cup in 2011, then set up Sergio Aguero's stoppage-time winner against QPR on the final day of the following Premier League season as the club became champions of England for the first time since 1968.
The striker was unable to help Italy beyond the group stage as this year's World Cup in Brazil, although he did score the winner as they beat England 2-1 in their opening match.