Source: Mario Balotelli

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.

Sacha Kljestan stars in “When Panenkas Fail” (video)

HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 22:  Sacha Kljestan #16 of New York Red Bulls heads the ball in front of Steve Birnbaum #15 of D.C. United during their match at Red Bull Arena on March 22, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
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When Panenkas don’t go well, players look foolish.

Sacha Kljestan looks foolish.

The New York Red Bulls captain strode to the penalty spot to level the score in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps.

[ MORE: Leicester grabs away goal ]

Only he didn’t. Kljestan chipped his attempt barely a foot off the ground, allowing David Ousted to kick the chance away. Bradley Wright-Phillips blazed the rebound over the frame, and it remained 1-0 for the ‘Caps.

WATCH: Liverpool loanee nets hat trick for U.S. U-20 side

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19:  Brooks Lennon of Liverpool celebrates his goal during the Premier League 2 match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at The Lamex Stadium on September 19, 2016 in Stevenage, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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If Brooks Lennon brings this sort of scoring prowess to Real Salt Lake, he may just walk away Rookie of the Year.

On loan from Liverpool, Lennon is first on duty with the United States U-20 men’s national team in Costa Rica.

The U.S. opened U-20 World Cup qualifying with a 1-0 loss to Panama, and was under the gun when it allowed an early goal to Haiti late Tuesday evening.

[ MORE: Rooney’s agent in China ]

But Lennon scored a trio of goals and sent in the corner that Luca de la Torre eventually finished as the Yanks won 4-1. The U.S. has St. Kitts and Nevis in the final group match on Friday.

The top two teams from each group of four advance to the next round, in which four teams will qualify for the U-20 World Cup. That tournament is set for May in South Korea.

WATCH: Amazing bicycle kick goal at beach soccer championship

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Anyone who’s competed in a beach soccer match can attest to the tricky nature of getting traction on sand.

That’s what makes this feat from Makenson Cadet so impressive (and fun).

[ MORE: Rooney’s agent in China ]

Turks and Caicos was trailing Costa Rica 8-1 in their CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship game, and Cadet gave the visitors something to brag about by popping the ball up for a juggle and bicycle kick goal.

Cadet is only 17, and apparently has some game on the grass as well. He was on trial with Nottingham Forest in 2015.

Europa League: Spurs look to overturn 1-0; La Liga resurgent?

GENT, BELGIUM - FEBRUARY 16:  Kenny Saief of KAA Gent and Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between KAA Gent and Tottenham Hotspur at Ghelamco Arena on February 16, 2017 in Gent, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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Who will join Manchester United, Schalke, and Krasnodar in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16?

Four-goal leads give Roma and Rostov a very good shot at advancing, while Anderlecht, AZ Alkmaar and Besiktas will also like their chances of moving forward.

[ MORE: Leicester grabs away goal ]

But plenty remains up for grabs, including Tottenham Hotspur’s chance of moving to the Round of 16. Spurs trail Gent 1-0 after their road leg, and now have to get a shutout or two-goal win at Wembley.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino says his side can’t push too hard, too soon, if it wants to move onto the next:

“We need to be patient. It’s important to know that tomorrow is a game that we need to win, that is in our mind. We need to turn the result (around) and it’s true that we need to have very good balance – that is key. It’s important for us to keep the balance between attacking and defence because it’s only 1-0 from the first leg and now we have time to turn it (around). We need to be clever, play well, be aggressive and improve our performance from the game in Belgium.”

Spanish sides are in danger of elimination on Thursday. While Athletic Bilbao won its first leg versus APOEL Nicosia, it allowed two road goals. Villarreal trails Roma 4-0, and Celta Vigo is down 1-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Full Thursday schedule

11 a.m. EDT
Osmanlispor vs. Olympiacos (0-0)

1 p.m. EDT
Apoel Nicosia vs. Athletic Bilbao (AB leads 3-2)
Besiktas vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Besiktas leads 3-1)
Ajax vs. Legia Warsaw (0-0)
Roma vs. Villarreal (Roma leads 4-0)
Zenit Saint Petersburg vs. Anderlecht (Zenit trails 2-0)
Fiorentina vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (Gladback trails 1-0)

3:05 p.m. EDT
Lyon vs. AZ Alkmaar (Lyon leads 4-1)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Celta Vigo (Shakhtar trails 1-0)
Sparta Prague vs. Rostov (Rostov leads 4-0)
Genk vs. Astra Giurgiu (2-2)
Copenhagen vs. Ludogorets (Copenhagen leads 2-1)
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Gent (Spurs trail 1-0)