6 a.m. ET: Those “Mario Balotelli to AC Milan” rumors gathered steam over the weekend. Milan is talking, Balotelli is acting, and it looks like he might make that dream move before the January transfer window closes.
Last week, Manchester City reportedly put a £31 million ($49.2 million) price tag on the Italian striker. Milan balked at that figure, saying it wouldn’t talk about a deal until that price dropped.
Well it did, according to Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport. City is now asking for around £23.5 million ($37.3 million). The same report says the defending Premier League champion will allow Milan to spread the payments over six installments to ease the financial burden during this age of austerity.
On Sunday, Football Italia reported that Milan vice president (and transfer supremo) Adriano Galliani said his club will “jump for Balotelli” if the price is right.
“It depends on them,” Galliani said. “I am waiting, they are there and if the price drops then we will jump for Balotelli. Otherwise, we will stay in Milan. They are his legitimate employers, so we wait, observe and see what happens.
“How much does it have to drop? We don’t know. Paying in installments is an option, but you still have to pay.”
The Daily Star adds momentum to this transfer rumor. The British tabloid reports Balotelli has not only purchased an apartment in Brescia, Italy (one hour away from Milan), but he also has started shipping some of his personal items back to Italy. That is not all.
“Now it is understood Balotelli, 22, has given notice on his Cheshire home where he has never settled since his £22 million switch from Inter in 2010,” the report adds.
“Milan are interested in rescuing the fiery star’s career but they will not pay more than £15 million ($23.8 million).”
Now we wouldn’t put it past Balotelli to jump the gun and start moving out of Manchester before its prudent to do so. But there are too many factors to suggest this is a rumor which lacks substance.
The two clubs are roughly £8.5 million ($13.5 million) apart on their respective valuations. It’s possible that they’ll bridge that gap with a combination of performance clauses, sell-on fees, player exchanges or forming a Tottenham-Real Madrid-style partnership. It’s more likely that a game of high-stakes brinkmanship has begun, and each club is waiting for time (and fan) pressure to make the other blink. Either way, it’s looking like Balotelli’s days in English soccer are numbered.
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