Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli's hopes of completing a summer switch to Besiktas have been left in tatters after the club denied claims that such a transfer is likely to happen. The controversial 25-year-old, who spent last season on loan at AC Milan, is approaching an uncertain crossroads in his career, with a return to Anfield appearing hugely unlikely and the Rossoneri seemingly uninterested in signing him permanently for a second time.
The likelihood of a potential move to Turkey increased dramatically yesterday (16 June) when agent Mino Raiola gave an interview to Spox.com.tr in which he claimed that he had offered Balotelli to Besiktas and, while still waiting for response, was confident that the deal would be completed given previous assurances from president Fikret Orman that he "would do everything he can to sign him".
However, sporting director Erdal Torunogullari disputes that claim and has reiterated the Super Lig champions' intention to reach an agreement that would see Mario Gomez remain at Vodafone Arena. The veteran Fiorentina forward, currently away with Germany at Euro 2016 having earned an international recall last November, scored 28 goals in 41 total appearances last season during an extremely productive loan spell in Istanbul.
That impressive haul helped Senol Gunes' side to win their 14th domestic title and a first for seven years ahead of local rivals Fenerbahce. Galatasaray finished a distant sixth.
"We know Raiola well," Torunogullari was quoted as saying by The Mirror. "He's even said Balotelli will go to Besiktas, but it's not like that. We're not interested, our priority is to hold on to Mario Gomez. This month will be decisive, everything depends on him [Gomez]. Only then will we decide what to do."
Gomez replaced Julian Draxler for the final 18 minutes of Germany's insipid 0-0 Group C draw with rivals Poland on Thursday night (16 June), but could start against Northern Ireland in Paris next week amid growing frustrations over manager Joachim Low's persistence on using Bayern Munich playmaker Mario Gotze as a false nine.
Balotelli, who made a sizable impact at Euro 2012 and scored three times as Italy made the final in Kiev, was not selected by Italy boss Antonio Conte for the current European Championship and has not played at all for the Azzurri since the 2014 World Cup. Having already declared that he was not happy at Liverpool and does not wish to go back despite the change in management, his options at present seem rather thin.
The former Inter and Manchester City frontman could become the latest high-profile player to move to the Chinese Super League, with The Guardian recently suggesting that several suitors have expressed an interest in his signature. Other unnamed teams in Turkey are believed to have done likewise.