Liverpool have agreed to pay Milan £16m to bring the Italian striker back to the Premier League and are holding talks with his agent Mino Raiola over personal terms.
Unfortunately for Liverpool the comparisons with Suarez are a little forced – Balotelli may be just as prone to the spectacular and the unpredictable but he is unlikely to score 30 goals a season – he managed only 30 in two-and-a-half years at City. He will also have to make major changes to his style of play if he is to lead Liverpool’s high-energy pressing game as Suarez did; and neither does he lead the family-orientated life of suburban sobriety away from the pitch as the Uruguayan did.
Neither does he appear to have been Liverpool’s first choice to replace Suarez. If Alexis Sanchez had chosen Merseyside over London; or if Loïc Rémy’s transfer had gone through, Liverpool and Milan would never have reached this point.
The consolation for the club’s supporters is that it will not be dull and at £16m, even if they get just a couple of seasons of excitement from him before 19-year-old Belgian international Divock Origi returns from his loan spell back at Lille and matures into the top striker Brendan Rodgers believes he can become, then it will have been worth it.
If a £90,000-a-week five-year contract is agreed in time and the 24-year-old is registered before midday on Friday he could make his debut against Manchester City on Monday. The opponents may be an early reminder of the reasons he gave for wanting to leave the country in 2013.
When Balotelli moved to Milan in January of that year, after two-and-a-half years at Manchester City, he was asked what it was he didn’t like about England: “The press, the weather, the food, the way you drive. That’s it,” was his reply (crashing his Audi R8 three weeks after arriving in Manchester might have put him off English roads). They, like the other three gripes, will not have changed much since he has been away.
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But in that grumpy presentation he also praised the atmosphere and quality of what he referred to several times as the “amazing” Premier League, and Rodgers will be able to tap into that, getting him right for big matches where he tended not to let Manchester City down.
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
Mario Balotelli: The funniest stories
When a youngster asked for an autograph outside Manchester City's training ground, Balotelli demanded to know why the boy was playing truant. After the child revealed he was being bullied, Balotelli drove the boy and his mother to the school in question so he could tackle the bully himself. He demanded to see the headmaster to make him aware of the issue and then mediated between the two boys to resolve the problem. A source said: 'Mario feels strongly about bullying.' Read the full story here.
After gambling at Manchester's 235 Casino, Balotelli walked away with winnings of £25,000. Feeling generous, he gave a homeless man 'with ginger dreadlocks and a beard' £1,000. Click here for the full story.
3/17 Parking fines
During his time in Manchester, Balotelli racked up £10,000 in parking fines and had his white Maserati impounded 27 times. Once he was pulled over by the police who wanted to enquire why he had £5,000 in cash on his front seat. Balotelli reorted: 'Because I am rich.' Click here for the full story.
Balotelli was 'bored', so threw darts at Manchester City youth team players to pass the time. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli explained prior to Euro 2012 how he would deal with racists: 'I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.'
In a pre-season friendly for AC Milan, two fans ran onto the pitch to demand a selfie with the striker. Rather than shy away like most would in such a situation, Balotelli was more than happy to oblige.
Mario isn't a one trick pony. He can also iron, dance and read - all at the same time. Click here to watch.
For reasons never fully explained, Balotelli once sported a chicken hat. Thankfully it was a trend that never caught on.
Getty Images; Sky News
A bright spark at the body that co-ordinates firework safety material enlisted Balotelli soon after it was reported that some had been set off in the bathroom of his Manchester mansion.
10/17 Why always me?
The day those stories emerged, Balotelli scored for City in the Manchester derby, giving him the perfect opportunity to reveal *that* t-shirt.
11/17 The Queen
The Queen may be wary of Balotelli's return to England. During the World Cup, he said he wanted a kiss from Her Royal Highness should Italy do England a favour by beating Costa Rica. Thankfully for everyone involved, they didn't.
During a Europa League defeat to Dynamo Kiev, Balotelli had to be substituted in the 57th minute with his face swelling up. It emerged afterwards that the Italian is allergic to some types of grass.
During an Inter Milan press conference to announce the appointment of Andrea Stramaccioni as interim-manager, Balotelli interrupted proceedings to say hello. He was enjoying a day-off from Manchester City at the time. Click here to watch.
Balotelli's naked torso was to be one of the defining images of Euro 2012 - but he's not overly keen on celebrating goals. 'I don't celebrate goals, I'm just doing my job,' he infamously said. 'Does a postman celebrate when he delivered the mail?'
Balotelli has always appeared to be well loved by his team-mates. Perhaps it's the pranks he plays, like this one on Edin Dzeko. Click here to watch.
Balotelli was reportedly questioned by police in Italy when he was found taking a look around the grounds of a women's prison in Brescia. Apparently he simply fancied having a look. Click here for the full story.
Balotelli's relationship with former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was a complicated one. It has been described as a father-and-son type relationship - only the sort where they fight each other during training.
EAMONN & JAMES CLARKE
He also represents a more viable investment than Samuel Eto’o who might have been perfect for Liverpool’s style of play five years ago when Barcelona sold him to appease Pep Guardiola, but not at his current age.
Eto’o is another potentially difficult player to manage and his fall-outs have sometimes involved team-mates. Balotelli’s don’t usually cause too much dressing room discord.
It could still be a bumpy ride, however, especially if the form of some of the other Liverpool players signed in their £101m summer spending spree outperform him and limit his first team involvement – an idle Balotelli is twice as dangerous as a motivated regularly-starting one.
At Milan he seemed to have found a coach who could get the best out of him in Clarence Seedorf. He scored the late penalty against Verona that insured Seedorf won his first match in charge in January 2014; he even dedicated the goal to his new manager.
A bond was emerging and the Dutch coach defended his striker against criticism when he cried on the bench after being taken off in a 3-1 defeat to Napoli a month later, understood to be upset after being confirmed as the father of the child of a former girlfriend. But Seedorf was out of a job by June. Going the same way as the last coach to put his faith in Balotelli, Roberto Mancini.
Rodgers should at least have enough alternative attacking options to not need to make the same mistake. And if against the odds he makes a long-term success of the transfer, it will go down as one of his greatest coaching triumphs.
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