Mario Balotelli signs for Liverpool in $26 million deal from AC Milan

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On Monday Liverpool completed the capture of Italian international striker Mario Balotelli from AC Milan.

Balotelli arrives at Anfield in a $26 million transfer fee and signed a long-term deal with the Reds to help bolster their frontline. Balotelli becomes the Reds’ ninth signing of the summer and was pictured training at the clubs Melwood base on Monday morning before his signing was announced.

[ANALYSIS: Can Balotelli replace Suarez?]

One of the most enigmatic and precocious talents in the game, Balotelli, 24, is now tasked with replacing Liverpool’s former star striker, Luis Suarez, who left for Barcelona this summer.

[VIDEO: How will Liverpool cope without Suarez?]

[RELATED: Profile – Mario Balotelli]

If Balotelli can hit the ground running on Merseyside, the Reds will have got a bargain but Brendan Rodgers’ side know that nothing is straight forward when it comes to ‘Super Mario’ and with his acquisition comes a large dose of risk. After his drawn out transfer from Italy back to England, Liverpool have ultimately decided that Balotelli is worth the risk, as he will link up with Daniel Sturridge in attack as the Reds aim for PL and UEFA Champions League domination.

[PHOTO: Balotelli trains with Liverpool]

Speaking of his move to Liverpool, Balotelli told the club website he is delighted to get everything sealed.

“I’m very happy,” Balotelli said. “We’ve been talking about coming here and now I’m happy to be here. Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England and the football is very good here. It’s a great team with young players, and that’s why I came here.”

Balotelli scored 30 goals in 80 games for Man City during a three-year stint at the Etihad from 2010-13, and has been a big hit at AC Milan since joining last January in a $32 million move. Balotelli has banged in 30 goals in 54 games for the Milanese outfit and will bring his power, pace and strength to Liverpool’s attack which is looking slightly lackluster after losing Suarez over the summer. The Italian scored the winning goal against England at the World Cup this summer but the Azzurri bowed out at the group stage as the young striker failed to impact games against Costa Rica and Uruguay which followed.

[RELATED: Can Liverpool replicate success?]

His on and off the field issues will need to be addressed but Balotelli’s growing maturity suggests he can fulfill his potential at Anfield. His personality make him a superstar in the eyes of fans and the media, as Liverpool aim to quell the exit of Suarez by adding another eccentric genius to their attack.

Let’s see how this pans out. Whatever happens, life is never dull when ‘Super Mario’ is around.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”

Villarreal opens probe into Semedo’s reported arrest

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MADRID (AP) Spanish club Villarreal says it is investigating the actions of defender Ruben Semedo after reports that he was arrested for a violent incident.

The club said it is “highly concerned” about the issue and “will take the appropriate disciplinary actions with utmost rigor based on the seriousness of the events.”

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

The statement was released after Spanish media reported that the Portuguese player was taken into custody early Tuesday for allegedly being involved in a hostile confrontation with another man last week.

Police did not immediately confirm Semedo’s arrest.