“Don’t let the door hit on the way out,” seems to be Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ message to his enigmatic Italian striker Mario Balotelli, and others, just nine days before the start of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup ]
After scoring just one league goal in his debut season (16 appearances) at Anfield, Balotelli has once again been left out of Rodgers’ squad, alongside fellow Italian striker Fabio Borini and Spanish left back Jose Enrique, for the Reds’ final two games of the preseason, against HJK Helsinki (Saturday) and Swindon (Sunday).
Balotelli, Borini and Enrique were also omitted from Liverpool’s recent tour of the Far East and Australia. This has, of course, only served to further fuel speculation that Rodgers is doing everything he can to push the underwhelming and underperforming trio out the Anfield exit door.
Despite his agent emphatically stating otherwise before the start of the transfer window, Balotelli does look destined to leave Liverpool after just one season on Merseyside, with Serie A sides Lazio, Sampdoria and Bologna all reportedly interested in the 24-year-old.
With the arrivals of Christian Benteke ($50 million), Roberto Firmino ($33 million) and Danny Ings (tribunal fee to be decided) already this summer, playing time at both center forward and the left wing — two spots in which Balotelli and Borini have occasionally featured for the Reds — look to be extremely limited.