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Liverpool "agree £16m fee" for Balotelli

Liverpool FC are believed to have agreed a fee of £16m with AC Milan.

And Balotelli could arrive on Merseyside just in time for a trip to the Etihad Stadium and a game against his old club, Manchester City.

So, after losing Luis Suarez, are the fans happy to bring in another controversial character?

We sent David Chisnall to find out.

Balotelli "says goodbye" to Milan

Statement on Milan's website.

Milan said on their website on Thursday afternoon that Balotelli had bid farewell to his team-mates before leaving training.

The statement on the club's website read: "Mario Balotelli left Milanello's sporting centre at 13.30 (local time), after saying goodbye to his team-mates. "Before leaving the premises, the striker has said goodbye to members of Milan's press office."

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Liverpool target Balotelli

Mario Balotelli training for AC Milan. Credit: PA

Liverpool are considering a move to bring AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli back to the Barclays Premier League.

Reports linking the former Manchester City star with the Anfield club earlier this summer came to nothing but Press Association Sport says the Reds have now declared their interest in the former Manchester City star.

Any deal for the 24-year-old would be a permanent transfer, with a loan arrangement thought to be off the table. Balotelli enjoyed a whirlwind stint at City between 2010 and 2013, winning an FA Cup and Premier League title with the club but gaining notoriety for his unpredictable off-field behaviour.

His tendency to appear in the gossip pages led to a famous goal celebration when, after scoring against neighbours Manchester United in October 2011, he lifted his shirt to reveal a slogan that read "Why Always Me?".

Balotelli eventually left England for Milan when then City boss Roberto Mancini decided to cash in on the eccentric forward.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has experience with difficult characters, of course, having coaxed the best out of Luis Suarez before his departure for Barcelona.

Suarez's disciplinary problems - including biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic on Rodgers' watch - as well as a publicly stated desire to leave in 2013 caused headaches for Rodgers but the Uruguayan thrived on the pitch.

He swept the board at the end of season awards and the #65-75million Liverpool eventually banked from Barca largely funded a squad-building spending spree this summer.

But Rodgers remains in the marker for a marquee striker to share the load with Daniel Sturridge, with Rickie Lambert currently the only frontline support.

Monaco's Radamel Falcao is another big name who has been linked but Balotelli, who has been valued at around #17.5million, would be a more attainable target.

He scored 16 times for Milan last season, as well as grabbing Italy's winner in the World Cup opener against England in Manaus.

Milan club administrator Adriano Galliani said on Wednesday they had yet to receive an offer from the Reds for Balotelli, but on Thursday the Italian club's TV channel reported that the Rossoneri were in negotiations with the Premier League outfit over the striker.

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi, meanwhile, said previously he came close to selling Balotelli - who is under contract at the San Siro until June 2017 - to an unnamed English club before the World Cup.

Gerrard and Sturridge take on the ice bucket challenge

Gerrard takes on the ice bucket challenge Credit: instagram.com/stevengerrard

Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge have become the latest North West stars to take the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and money for charity.

Sturridge was drenched by a member of the backroom team with ice-cold water at Melwood this morning - which he then posted in a clip on his official Instagram account.

Gerrard soon followed suit, again using his official Instagram account to post the clip from Melwood.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been adopted by Macmillan Cancer support in the UK, with celebrities including tennis star Andy Murray and golfer Ian Poulter taking part.

Sturridge takes on the ice bucket challenge Credit: http://instagram.com/p/r1VshOHNUy/

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Alberto Moreno speaks of his motivation for Liverpool move

Alberto Moreno

Defender Alberto Moreno admits his departure from Sevilla has been emotional and complicated but he is relishing the prospect of joining Liverpool.

The 22-year-old arrived at the club's Melwood training ground on Wednesday to finalise a #12million move to Anfield after Sevilla relented in Liverpool's long pursuit for the left-back.

Moreno was pulled from his side's starting line-up to face Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Cardiff on Tuesday night and bade a tearful farewell to fans and team-mates after the 2-0 defeat at the Millennium Stadium.

"I am living a strange situation because I'm leaving the club of my life.

"I was always aware of the two teams (trying) to agree. I never got into that but Sevilla have understood that Liverpool's offer was good and I am going.

"(I have) many feelings together. What happened on the pitch, with the fans, will remain forever etched on me and I could not help but mourn (his departure) because I did not expect it.

"First came the parting with colleagues, then with the fans...all very complicated.

"Liverpool are a great team and of course I'm super-motivated. I hope things go well."

– Alberto Moreno, speaking to ABC de Sevilla

Moreno's arrival will be the eighth through the doors at Anfield this summer, although Belgium striker Divock Origi has immediately returned to former club Lille on loan.

Acquiring the defender, providing much-needed competition for Jose Enrique, will take manager Brendan Rodgers' spending past the #100million mark this summer.

However, that has been significantly offset by the #75million sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and offloading high-earning goalkeeper Jose Reina to Bayern Munich, while the imminent sale of Martin Kelly to Crystal Palace could bring in another #2million.

The future of Denmark captain Daniel Agger remains in doubt now Rodgers has six centre-backs to choose from but for one of that group the way forward is clear.

Trabzonspor were keen on veteran Kolo Toure but the Ivory Coast international intends to see out the final year of his Reds' contract.

"Trabzonspor are interested in me but I have expressed my pleasure at being a Liverpool player," Toure told Sport-Ivoire.

"Yes, it is always a possibility to join a lower league for more playing time but I am a competitor and I decided to stay at Liverpool.

"The season is full of matches in the league and Champions League and I know I have time to prove I'm still hungry but I know I will not play every game, that's for sure.

"I had talks with the coach, who clearly indicated that I was part of his plans.

"I feel good physically and at 33 years of age I am ready for any challenge.

"I continue to work hard in training to keep up the momentum and it is why the coach wants to keep me at Liverpool, because I am a fighter.

"I intend to start the season with the same goals: to enable the club to progress and to please all fans of Liverpool.

"It is a privilege to be at Liverpool. I am very happy to wear the shirt of this legendary club.

"The situation can change at any time but for the moment I am at Liverpool and I want to carry on with the club."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. Credit: PA

At the other end of the scale Rodgers has been impressed by the progress made by 19-year-old Raheem Sterling, who has carried on the impressive performances of the previous campaign into Liverpool's pre-season games.

"Something we said to Raheem when he first broke into the team and we've reiterated is that you have to have an identity as a player," Rodgers told liverpoolfc.com.

"His identity is he has to score goals and create goals. That's what the job is. He scored 10 goals last year and this kid is only going to get better.

"When you look at the finish against Manchester City in New York, how many times have we seen [Lionel] Messi produce a touch like that, taking it through bodies when it's so tight in the box?

"The great thing with watching him now is that he gets you off your seat. When he gets the ball you think 'Something could happen here'.

"He's taking it all in his stride and now he's in a good place with every part of his game.

"It's just about maintaining that commitment to his work. He's still only 19, but in big games he's performed and he's a wonderful talent."

Liverpool linked with Eto'o move

Liverpool have been linked with a move for veteran former Barcelona and Inter Milan frontman Samuel Eto'o.

Samuel Eto'o in action for Cameroon at the World Cup Credit: PA Images

Manager Brendan Rodgers remains keen to add to his squad before the summer transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Rodgers has already made a number of signings but is still thought to want another forward following the £75million sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

The Reds were close to landing France striker Loic Remy from QPR last month but a deal collapsed after a medical.

Eto'o, who is out of contract after leaving Chelsea at the end of last season, is the latest name to have been linked with Anfield.

Rodgers told the club's website, www.liverpoolfc.com: "We would still like to do some business.

"Across the board we still want to add a little bit more depth to what we have."

Liverpool have already signed international strikers Rickie Lambert and Divock Origi this summer, although the latter is to be loaned back to former club Lille.

Adam Lallana, Emre Can and Lazar Markovic have been brought in to bolster midfield options while defenders Dejan Lovren and Javier Manquillo have also been added to the squad.

Liverpool completed their pre-season programme with a 4-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at Anfield on Sunday.

They open their Barclays Premier League campaign at home to Southampton - the club from which they signed Lambert, Lallana and Lovren - on Sunday.

Rodgers warns Van Gaal about the Premier League

Brendan Rodgers has warned new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal that the competitiveness of the Premier League will be like nothing he has encountered so far in his illustrious career.

The Liverpool manager believes that, despite Van Gaal's experience of winning titles in Holland, Spain and Germany with clubs such as Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, he will be surprised when the Premier League kicks off again on August 16.

Van Gaal, who arrived in Manchester fresh from leading Holland to the semi-finals of the World Cup, has enjoyed a strong start to life at Old Trafford with his side unbeaten so far in his first pre-season campaign.

United impressed as they beat Real Madrid and Liverpool on their way to winning the International Champions Cup on Tuesday in Miami, but Rodgers has warned the 62-year-old that it will be anything but plain sailing when the domestic season gets under way.

"I think what he'll find is the competition in this league will be different to any other league that he's worked in," the Northern Irishman told several national newspapers.

"In a lot of the other leagues, there are one or two teams and those are the teams that are expected to win.

"This is a league where the top team plays the bottom team and on any given day you can lose. You don't get that a lot in the other leagues. I think the competition will probably take him by (surprise), and that's from foreign managers I have spoken to over the years."

Despite the fierce rivalry between the two clubs, Rodgers also spoke of his admiration for Van Gaal and what he has achieved.

"I've obviously an admirer of his work and his career," he added.

"He's a very experienced manager and a very good manager who has worked at some big clubs.

"When you come through as a coach, you look at the guys who have a vision and a philosophy, and he was obviously one of those guys."

Gerrard back Liverpool to bounce back from last season's heartbreak

Gerrard thanks the Kop Credit: PA Pictures

Steven Gerrard has backed Liverpool to bounce back from last season's end-of-season heartbreak and mount a serious title challenge once again.

The Reds led the Barclays Premier League by five points with three games to go in April, but a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Anfield - in which Gerrard slipped to gift Demba Ba the opening goal - saw them pipped to the title by Manchester City.

Gerrard, who retired from international football after the World Cup to prolong his Anfield career, is ready to put last season's disappointment behind him and lead Liverpool in their first Champions League campaign since the 2009-10 season.

And the 34-year-old insists that Brendan Rodgers' side believe that they can go one better than their 2013-14 second-place finish and win their first league title in 24 years.

Speaking about the last season's campaign and the upcoming season, Gerrard told the Daily Mirror: "With 10, 12 games to go, people were maybe expecting us to drop away a lot sooner than we did. But we handled the pressure superbly well and we played some unbelievable football.

"We are a good team, with a good manager, that is getting stronger. The confidence is rising in the dressing room and we have got to show that we are the real deal.

"We are not there to just make the numbers up. There is genuine belief that we can be in there.

"Good sides don't just have one good season. They keep trying to fight for what they want. Chelsea do it. Manchester City do it. Manchester United have had a one-off bad season and they will be back. Arsenal have made a couple of really good signings.

"The league is going to be very, very tough but we know we are one of the sides that has got a genuine chance of winning it. I believe that."

Luis Suarez played a major role in Liverpool's second-place finish last season but the Reds will, of course, be unable to count on his goals and man-of-the-match performances after he joined Barcelona earlier this month.

While conceding that Suarez's departure is a massive loss, Gerrard insists that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic in the red half of Merseyside.

He added: "Of course it (winning the title) will be difficult, it would be difficult with Luis and it will be without. All the other teams will grow and improve in the summer.

"But the reason I have that belief and confidence is because of the experience of all the other games last year, and also the manager has been here for a bit longer, and because of the signings he is making. I'm pretty confident we can get right involved in it again."

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