Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli has insisted he does not wish to return to Anfield this summer. The controversial Italian is currently in the final stages of a season-long loan at AC Milan, where he has scored just one solitary Serie A goal and missed four months of action after undergoing groin surgery in November 2015.
Balotelli's appearance in the 1-0 win at Sampdoria on Sunday (17 April) was only his third league start since September and although he has notched twice in Coppa Italia against third-tier opposition, his disrupted season is unlikely to have done much to convince Jurgen Klopp that he is worthy of a second chance.
"When it comes to my future I want to stay with Milan because I wasn't happy at Liverpool and I don't want to return there," the 25-year-old was quoted saying in The Guardian. "Plus, Milan has the money. I've been doing well in my last two games, there are another six for me to prove myself. I feel in good shape physically at last and am relaxed."
Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers initially hailed Balotelli as a bargain signing after he completed a £16m ($22.7m) move to Merseyside amid a big summer recruitment drive in August 2014, but later suggested the deal was something of a last resort after Luis Suarez's high-profile departure to Barcelona and a failure to sign Alexis Sanchez. He eventually notched just four times during a frustrating year that saw the club revert from genuine title contenders to Europa League qualifiers.
It was initially postulated that the departure of Rodgers and the identity of his successor could offer a route back to Liverpool for Balotelli, as well as other loanees such as Lazar Markovic and Luis Alberto. Klopp has previously stated that a decision on the ex-Manchester City forward's future would be made at the end of the season, although the prospect of a return now seems very unlikely.
Indeed, whether or not Milan want to bring him back on a full-time basis remains to be seen. The Rossoneri have endured another disappointing year and earlier this month relieved head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic of his duties after 10 months in charge and with only six games remaining. Primavera boss Cristian Brocchi has been appointed as his initial replacement until the end of the season and recently expressed the hope that Balotelli would show both his quality and that he "truly cares about the Milan jersey". He would, Brocchi said ominously, receive no further chances.