In what would be quite the occurrence, Inter are reportedly looking to bring Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli back to the San Siro.
Italian publication Tuttosport are today claiming that Roberto Mancini has identified the troubled forward as a transfer target this summer as he plots the club’s return to the Champions League.
The Nerazzurri have spent four consecutive seasons outside of Europe’s premier club competition, and having finished fourth in Serie A last season, Mancini is looking to push on significantly in the coming campaign.
However, he will have to do it on a budget. The club have told the manager that he will have minimal funds to spend – a turn of events that could yet see the former Manchester City boss walk away – and so some of his loftier targets, the likes of Yaya Touré and Antonio Candreva, have been placed out of his financial reach.
The only signings made by Inter so far summer (aside from loan deals being made permanent) have been the €3.4m acquisition of Cristian Ansaldi, as well as free transfers Éver Banega and Caner Erkin.
Such frugality would not be a problem in landing Balotelli. Liverpool are so desperate to offload the 25-year-old that they are likely to listen to any offer that might be forthcoming.
Although he has continued to train at Melwood, the former Italian international has been told by manager Jürgen Klopp that he has no future at the club, and has had no part whatsoever in Liverpool’s pre-season friendly campaign.
The report notes that convincing the Inter fans that this is a good move could be an issue. Although Balotelli played for Inter 86 times in his early career – even winning a Champions League medal in 2010 – the fact that he has reaffirmed his love for rivals AC Milan more than once may still grate with some Inter fans.
That being said, players lining out for both Milan clubs in their careers is a relatively common occurrence – the fans’ annoyance would soon subside if he was performing.
Andrea Pirlo last week claimed that time was running out for Mario Balotelli to become a top-level striker – returning to the club where he made his name could yet be the making of him. Mancini has always proclaimed his fondness for the player he gave his Inter debut to in 2007, and whom he signed for Manchester City three years later.
Or it could all go horribly wrong again. At this point, who knows?