Ital­ians will make £8m Jan­uary swoop

Midweek Sport - - SPORT - By TIM ABRA­HAM

LIVER­POOL will con­sider a cut-price £8mil­lion of­fer from Napoli to take Mario Balotelli off their hands in Jan­uary.

Reds boss Bren­dan Rodgers ap­pears to be ready to call time on Balotelli’s An­field ca­reer after ac­cept­ing his per­for­mances have not hit the re­quired level.

The North­ern Ir­ish­man had hoped he could get the best out of the enig­matic Ital­ian, but after just two months he has all but given up.

Balotelli’s lack of goals have been less of a con­cern to Rodgers, who has been more dis­ap­pointed with his work ethic on the pitch and dur­ing train­ing.

The 24-year-old barely breaks sweat in prepa­ra­tions at Mel­wood and his body lan­guage in games has started to frus­trate sup­port­ers.

The Reds paid AC Mi­lan £16m for Balotelli, but they are set to write off half of that in or­der to move the player on when the trans­fer win­dow opens.

Rodgers is un­der­stood to have drawn up a short­list of po­ten­tial re­place­ments, with West Brom for­ward Saido Ber­ahino at the top of the pile. Ber­ahino has made a very im­pres­sive start to the sea­son and Bag­gies boss Alan Irvine has hinted he would be pre­pared to let him go – if the club got the right of­fer.

Un­cer­tainty

Liver­pool are also set to boost their goal­keep­ing op­tions in Jan­uary as they pur­sue a £10m move for Es­panyol’s Kiko Casilla.

Club scouts have mon­i­tored Casilla this sea­son, with un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing the fu­ture of first choice Si­mon Mig­no­let. Sources in Spain have con­firmed Liver­pool are ready­ing an of­fer for Casilla, although the player would pre­fer to re­main in La Liga.

Mean­while, Liver­pool in­sist they have no long-term con­cerns over striker Daniel Stur­ridge’s fit­ness.

Stur­ridge is re­cov­er­ing from a calf prob­lem sus­tained in train­ing, hav­ing missed the whole of Septem­ber with a thigh com­plaint.

But Liver­pool as­sis­tant boss Colin Pas­coe in­sists the club aren’t wor­ried about se­ri­ous un­der­ly­ing prob­lems.

“No, not at all. He’s a great pro and he looks after him­self,” Pas­coe said. “He’s just been a bit un­lucky.”

NOT-SO-SU­PER MARIO: Balotelli could be on his way out – while Kiko Casilla could be on his way in

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