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From bust-ups to fireworks . . . to Anfield?

Mario Balotelli is understood to be close to making a return to English football after Liverpool agreed a £16m fee with AC Milan for the maverick striker.

The 24-year-old was quoted by Italian media last night as saying that it was his "last day" at the club he supported as a boy, and which he joined from Manchester City last year for £19m.

Liverpool have declined to confirm an interest in Balotelli - who scored 30 goals in 54 matches for City - but it is understood that they have resolved to bring the Italy internationalist to Anfield. Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, acknowledged earlier in the summer that he was intent on bringing a "world-class striker" to the club following the sale of Luis Suarez and it now seems certain that the Northern Irishman has settled on Balotelli.

The Italian hit the headlines as often as he hit the net during his last dalliance with English football - notoriously setting fireworks off in his bathroom, throwing a dart at a youth team player and becoming embroiled in countless training ground bust-ups with team-mates and manager Roberto Mancini. The striker can expect to be the centre of attention again should he complete his move to Anfield today, since he would stand to make his debut against City at the Etihad Stadium on Monday.

Balotelli has spent just 19 months at Milan, a move which was intended to both reignite his career and settle him down after City grew tired of his erratic behaviour both on and off the pitch. They had paid £24m to sign him from Internazionale but he became a constant figure of frustration for Mancini and supporters.

Liverpool - and Rodgers - have experience in dealing with similar moments of controversy, with Suarez never too far from trouble while he was at Anfield. Balotelli also appears a more convincing replacement for the Uruguayan than Radamel Falcao, who had been linked with a move from Monaco earlier in the summer. Reported interest in former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o also appears to have cooled,while a move for Queens Park Rangers' Loic Remy collapsed after he failed a medical.

At present, summer signing Rickie Lambert is the only recognised support at Anfield for striker Daniel Sturridge. Another new face, Divock Origi, has been allowed to return to Lille on loan while Fabio Borini, who had a successful spell at Sunderland last season, seems to be out of the picture completely. A move for Balotelli would bolster Rodgers' attacking options for the new campaign.

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