Mario Balotelli could be set to reignite his stuttering career with Serie A newcomers Crotone after club president Raffaele Vrenna revealed there has been an initial approach made to his agent. Still only 25, the controversial Liverpool striker finds his future subject to significant uncertainty. He returned to Anfield for pre-season training last weekend having seen former club AC Milan reject the chance to take him back on a permanent basis, following an injury-plagued loan stint that saw him net just three goals in 23 appearances across all competitions.
While Balotelli's previous struggles on Merseyside came under the management of Brendan Rodgers, who conceded that his £16m ($20.7m) arrival in August 2014 was something of a last resort, he looks unlikely to figure prominently in Jurgen Klopp's plans after admitting in April that he was never happy at Liverpool and did not want to go back.
Although the former Inter and Manchester City forward altered that opinion during a recent interview with Corriere Della Sera, the expectation remains that he will be sold before the end of the summer transfer window.
Another return to his native Italy is certainly possible, although it remains to be seen if Calabria-based minnows Crotone, who last season followed in the footsteps of Carpi by winning promotion to the top-flight for the first time in their history, will hold any real appeal. Their current home at Stadio Ezio Scida caters for less than 10,000 supporters.
"I made a phone call to agent Mino Raiola for Balotelli," Vrenna told Gazzetta World. "Crotone is the ideal environment for young talent to grow and express themselves, we could be the right place to revive an incredible talent like that of Balotelli, who has unfortunately just experienced a couple of difficult seasons."
Interest in Balotelli's signature from top European clubs is unsurprisingly scarce. Last month, Raiola angrily dismissed reports that he had offered his client to Turkish champions Besiktas, who insist that their main focus remainson retaining the services of prolific Fiorentina loanee Mario Gomez. Sampdoria also appear eager to offer him another chance after president Massimo Ferrero claimed that he has tried to get the player to join as a replacement for the similarly volatile Antonio Cassano.
"Balotelli is Balotelli's worst enemy," he was quoted as saying by Corriere dello Sport. "Like Cassano is Cassano's worst enemy. He's a great player who's been stuck back in the 1960s. He could relaunch [his career] at a passionate club like ours, but he's still a bit confused. I've tried to tell him to come to Samp because he's a great talent."