Mario Balotelli has one eye on a move to Real Madrid, according to his AC Milan teammate Diego Lopez. The Italy international is currently on a season-long loan from Liverpool with the San Siro club but has not started a Serie A match since September.
The 25-year-old underwent groin surgery in November, which is expected to see him miss the remainder of the year. Since being offloaded by the Reds in the summer by then manager Brendan Rodgers, Balotelli has made just five appearances.
Balotelli's reputation has slumped since moving to Liverpool in the summer of 2014 as a replacement for departed forward Luis Suarez. The Italy international managed 14 goals in his first full season, but a number of insipid performances saw him cut a dejected figure.
However, Balotelli has not given up on staging a revival in his career and according to Lopez he has designs on one day joining Real. "Mario isn't like people paint him out to be," the Spaniard told Marca Plus, according to Goal.com. "He is a nice guy and a good player and you know what? His dream is to play for Real Madrid."
New manager Jurgen Klopp is yet to make a decision over Balotelli's. The German recalled a number of Liverpool's loan players during November's international break in order to meet them, but it is unknown whether Balotelli was among those who he spoke with.
Klopp has enquired into whether he can officially curtail the spells of any of the 16 players currently out on loan at Liverpool. Harry Wilson's loan at Crewe Alexandra, where he made just three starts in League One, was cut short on Tuesday but the future of many others – including Sheyi Ojo and Tiago Ilori – is unknown.
"I don't understand all the rules at the moment," he said in October, according to ESPN. "With players on loan, whether we can get them back or not, that's really different to Germany. I don't have to think about this right now."