Liverpool sold $80,000 worth of Mario Balotelli shirts on signing day

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When Liverpool signed striker Mario Balotelli from AC Milan for $26 million, pundits’ reactions were unanimous — this deal could very well prove to be the best investment in transfer history.

Assuming, of course, that Italian international 1) behaves himself and 2) plays up to his massive potential.

What flew under the radar, however, was that the deal for Balotelli wasn’t just ‘good business’ from a transfer-fee-to-talent perspective but from a merchandising point-of-view as well.

So, just how much influence did Super Mario have on Liverpool gear? How about $80,000 worth from the day he signed with the Merseyside club. Decent haul, that.

That number was casually thrown out by club chief executive Ian Ayre while speaking at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester, England on Wednesday at a seminar (appropriately) entitled “How to run a club successfully”.

[RELATED: Can Balotelli replace Suarez?]

In the words of the exec himself: “You have to be ready for these opportunities. In the past we didn’t capitalise on opportunities but those days are long gone.”

Balotelli, who was left off the Italy roster during the international break, is set to make his Anfield bow against Aston Villa this Saturday at 12:30 pm ET on NBC.