Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp not thinking about Mario Balotelli return
Jurgen Klopp has played down the idea that Mario Balotelli is in line to make a return to Liverpool.
Balotelli, 25, re-joined AC Milan on a season-long loan in the summer, with no agreement currently in place to make the move permanent.
After a disappointing season at Liverpool that brought the £16 million acquisition only one Premier League goal, Balotelli was told to find a new club by former Reds manager Brendan Rodgers.
Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola, though, suggested last week that he would seek talks with Klopp to establish whether the striker featured in the new manager's plans.
However, Klopp told a news conference on Monday that there are currently no plans to bring the former Manchester City player back into the fold, even with Liverpool looking in need of extra attacking options.
"At this moment I don't have the time and capacity to think about things for next summer," Klopp said.
"Maybe his agent says this and we will have a talk with his agent, but it's nothing I can think about in this moment. I am just thinking about what we can change in this moment."
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Raiola had told Sky Sports News it was possible his client could return to Merseyside.
"Theoretically and by law, yes," Raiola said. "He's owned by Liverpool so at the end of the season he should go back to Liverpool."
Asked if he planned to speak to Klopp soon about that possibility, he said: "For sure. That is part of my job, to speak to all the managers. I know Klopp from [representing] Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Dortmund.
"If we talk about the quality and the talent Mario has, that is without question. Then you also need a manager that believes in you and gives you the chance to prove yourself. We will talk to him when it is time to talk to him."
He admitted, though, that Balotelli would have work to do to persuade those at Anfield he was worth having back, with questions over his work rate in addition to the lack of goals.
"He had to go away because with Brendan there was no possibility to develop anymore," said Raiola. "There was a preconception towards Mario and I think from his private part of life he has proven them wrong. But we have to be realistic. He didn't perform well in 2015 and 2016 needs to be his year. That is his challenge."
Tom is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. Follow him @writertombell.