Liverpool transfer news: Gonzalo Higuain deal could pave way for Mario Balotelli exit

Rodgers looks to Argentina striker to improve firepower as he ponders shipping out unpredictable Italian

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The Independent Football

Liverpool are reported to be close to signing Gonzalo Higuain for about £30 million after they missed out on Xherdan Shaqiri as they try to shuffle their attacking forces by shipping out Mario Balotelli.

Brendan Rodgers had said that Balotelli, who came on halfway through the second half of Liverpool’s victory at Sunderland, would not be leaving Anfield this month, but the likelihood of the £16m Italian striker ending his miserable spell in England increased when Paris Saint-Germain joined Olympiakos in expressing an interest in taking the unpredictable player on loan.

PSG are restricted by Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules, so a loan move for Balotelli could appeal, with two of their forwards, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi, attracting transfer rumours.

Rodgers has said he would interested in any players who could improve his squad. Higuain falls into that category, and the chances of the Argentina striker moving on from Napoli, where the former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is in charge, rose when the Serie A side signed Manolo Gabbiadini from Sampdoria.

Bayern Munich confirmed that Liverpool had made a move for Shaqiri when they announced that the Switzerland winger was heading to Italy to play for Internazionale.

Liverpool have not reproduced last season’s attacking form since selling Luis Suarez to Barcelona. In the absence of the injured Daniel Sturridge, neither Rickie Lambert nor Adam Lallana, who moved to Anfield from Southampton in the summer, have made their presence felt, and the weight of goalscoring duties has fallen on Raheem Sterling.

Higuain, who joined Napoli from Real Madrid 18 months ago, has scored 26 goals in 49 games for the Italian side, but despite his impressive record doubts remain in Italy about his prowess as the leader of an attack.