Super Mario could be heading back to England this summer.
According to a report in the Mail on Sunday in the UK, Mario Balotelli’s time at AC Milan could be up and a move back to the Premier League is likely after the fiery forward is said to be sick and tired of the racist abuse hurled at him in Serie A.
Plus, he apparently realizes that life as PL superstar wasn’t all that bad, after all.
Balotelli, 23, left Manchester City in January 2013 after helping the Citizens to win the PL title but his wacky antics on and off the pitch all became a bit too much for everyone at the Etihad Stadium.
However with both Arsenal and Liverpool on the hunt for attackers to boost their squads for an assault on the Champions League next season, Balotelli’s big-game experience could be crucial. If you manage to massage his ego, Balotelli showed in his second season at City that he can be a real handful. He scored 17 goals in 32 games and proved he’s an absolute menace… when he wants to be.
The Italian international suits English soccer as his pace and power are perfect for the PL and if he’s handled correctly — that’s difficult to do after stunts such as setting off fireworks from his bathroom, handing out money to homeless people, being allergic to grass and many other issues — he could be an absolute bargain with Milan ready to offload him and they can’t offer him European soccer next season after they finished seventh this season. Despite their struggles, Balotelli has banged in 30 goals in 54 games for AC over the last two seasons and will be at the World Cup in Brazil this summer, strutting his stuff with his usual panache.
Do Arsenal or Liverpool need Balotelli?
Liverpool could certainly use depth up top because if either Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez get injured for a long period of time then stand-ins such as Iago Aspas could struggle massively. As for Arsenal, they have Olivier Giroud and then youngster Yaya Sanogo who occupy the top two spots on their depth chart of strikers. For so long Arsene Wenger has been urged to go out and buy a top quality striker. Is Balotelli the right man for the Gunners? His direct style of play is certainly something very different to what they are used to and I’m not sure I can see Wenger putting up with Balotelli’s antics for too long.
Both PL teams need to buy a striker this summer to be successful domestically and in Europa next season, but is Balotelli the man they will go for?
High-flying left back Benjamin Mendy‘s Manchester City takeoff has been delayed by a thigh injury.
Pep Guardiola revealed Thursday that Mendy is doubtful for City’s Aug. 12 Premier League opener at Brighton and Hove Albion despite passing a medical to push through a $68 million move from Monaco.
Saying Mendy is “a little bit injured,” Guardiola said to expect an absence of two to three weeks.
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The depth chart behind Mendy is incomplete, though City has added two right backs this offseason in Kyle Walker and Danilo.
The latter would be the front-runner to start in Mendy’s place, as he did in a 3-5-2 as Man City beat Real Madrid 4-1 on Wednesday.
Man City follows its opener at Brighton with a visit from Everton and a trip to Bournemouth.
Hard-nosed midfielder Rajda Nainggolan has been linked to Manchester United and Chelsea for some time, but Thursday linked up long-term with his present club.
Nainggolan, 29, signed a new deal with AS Roma through the 2020-21 season, putting the Belgian box-to-box mid at the heart of i Lupi‘s plans to chase down Juventus.
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Nainggolan has been in the last two Serie A Best XIs.
The 29-times capped Belgian has six goals for his national team, and has 255 Serie A appearances between Cagliari and Roma. Nainggolan has 31 goals and 18 assists in those matches, scooping 62 yellows and two send-offs but never being handed straight red.
While it’s a perceived blow for his Premier League suitors, it’s a welcome retention for Roma. He’s arguably the reason Roma was ready to part with Michael Bradley in 2014, and you can see why: He plays right up to the line but knows right where it lies.
ST. VEIT, Austria (AP) Local authorities in southern Austria have called off Sunday’s friendly match between Udinese and Hannover as the estimated number of spectators exceeds the capacity of the stadium.
The city of St. Veit says about 4,000 fans, including 280 potential football hooligans, were expected for the game at the ground of local amateur club FC Alpe Adria, which has a capacity of 2,430.
St. Veit mayor Gerhard Mock says “it’s a shame … but security comes first.”
It’s not immediately clear whether the match between the Italian and German top-flight teams can be moved to a larger venue. Both Udinese and Hannover are having their preseason training camps in the province of Carinthia.
Wayne Rooney will play his first competitive game for Everton in 13 years.
[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]
That storyline will dominate Everton’s return to Europe as they kick off their 2017-18 UEFA Europa League campaign in front of a packed house at Goodison Park on Thursday.
The Toffees welcome Slovakian side MFK Ruzomberok for the first leg of the third qualifying round as they aim to make it back to the group stage for the first time since 2014-15.
Click on the link above to follow not only Everton’s game but all of the Europa League qualifiers going on across Europe this afternoon with the likes of AC Milan, Fenerbache, PSV, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao all in action.
If Ronald Koeman‘s side successfully navigate their way past Ruzomberok then they will be in the play-off round which is the final hurdle before the group stage.