LIVERPOOL have enquired about a shock deal to bring Mario Balotelli back to the Premier League as their search for striking reinforcements appears increasingly scattergun.
A request to take Balotelli on loan, with clauses allowing Liverpool to cancel his contract if he steps out of line, was initially dismissed by AC Milan.
But Anfield officials are now set to pick up on discussions with their Italian counterparts and see whether an agreement in the region of £20m can be thrashed out for the former Manchester City forward.
Manager Brendan Rodgers ruled out any possibility of signing Balotelli, 24, who routinely courted controversy during his stay at City, on a permanent basis earlier in the summer.
That the Italy international has subsequently come under consideration highlights the difficulties Liverpool are encountering in bringing in talent to help fill the void left by Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona and provide Daniel Sturridge with genuine competition.
Striking heavyweights Radamel Falcao, for whom Liverpool are willing to pay Monaco a £20m ‘hire fee’ for one season, Edinson Cavani and Karim Benzema have been sounded out, while a deal for Loic Remy collapsed on medical grounds.
Interest in free agent Samuel Eto’o, who spent last season at Chelsea, has also been confirmed.
Balotelli is represented by the agent Mino Raiola, who also looks after Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi and he has been in constant dialogue with the club over a permanent move to Stoke for his client.
Milan are now waiting for a firm proposal and vice-president Adriano Galliani said: “At the moment there is no offer that has been received from Liverpool for Balotelli, so there is no negotiation.
“The market ends on 1st September, we will see.”Rodgers has created an culture at Liverpool where the emphasis is on hard work on a daily basis and one where a strong team spirit prevails.
Balotelli’s off-the-field antics are unlikely to faze Rodgers, but it would be any disruption to training and a lack of effort during matches that the Liverpool would have to back his man-management to keep in check.
He may have helped City win the title, but Balotelli, who would want around £160,000-a-week in wages, was involved in training ground bust-ups with manager Roberto Mancini and Micah Richards among other indiscretions.
Milan bought his three-year stay in England to a close in January 2013 in a £19m deal, but 18-months later new coach Filipo Inzaghi is prepared to let him leave.