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 By Ben Gladwell

AC Milan could sign Liverpool's Mario Balotelli permanently - Berlusconi

Mario Balotelli has yet to make an impression during his loan return to AC Milan this season.

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has opened up to the prospect of signing Mario Balotelli on a permanent basis this summer, providing the Liverpool striker can prove his maturity over the next three months.

Balotelli is on loan with the Rossoneri until the end of the season, when he is due to return to Liverpool. He has yet to make a real impact in Serie A this year, though, with injury and form restricting him to just 11 league appearances and one goal under coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Berlusconi -- who caused controversy recently when he said Balotelli is "Italian even if he has taken too much sun" -- has nevertheless not closed the door on making him a permanent signing in the summer.

"He's got an extraordinary gift of physical strength and technique, but he still needs to mature, particularly in terms of his behaviour in life," Berlusconi told 7Gold television. "We've also not managed to get him playing in the right position on the field.

"He's a striker yet he's always spending time out on the wings. If these things should change, as the coach has assured me they will, then we would be very happy to make a financial sacrifice and keep him with us."

After a disappointing first campaign with Liverpool and the 25-year-old's poor form this season, his asking price is likely to have plunged and the Rossoneri may be able to re-sign him for a fraction of the €20 million the Reds paid Milan for him in 2014.

Balotelli, who has also been linked with a summer move to China, will still have two years left to run on his contract at Anfield at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi is confident Milan are capable of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

They are currently eight points adrift of third-placed Fiorentina and Berlusconi can still see them closing that gap.

"I think we have a good enough squad," Berlusconi said. "We've had too many injuries this season, but we have quality players like [Jeremy] Menez, Balotelli and [Kevin-Prince] Boateng -- three genuine champions who we've not been able to rely on yet.

"We showed in Napoli how much our players are fully focused. We desperately want to win the Coppa Italia because that would make it a successful season and qualify us for Europe, while our second objective is to finish third."


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