Mario Balotelli may have a future at AC Milan despite the Liverpool striker only scoring three times during his current loan spell at the Serie A outfit. La Gazzetta Dello Sport claims Milan still "believe" in the controversial striker and will meet with the Reds at the end of the season to secure his services on a permanent basis.
Liverpool sent the 25-year-old back to the San Siro last summer, just one season on from paying them around £16m ($23.2m) to lure him to Anfield to fill the gap left by the departed Luis Suarez.
Balotelli has not hit top form in either of the past two years, but earlier this month admitted he has no plans to go back to Liverpool.
"When it comes to my future I want to stay with Milan as I wasn't happy at Liverpool and I don't want to return there," the 25-year-old was quoted by The Guardian. "Plus, Milan have 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."
La Gazzetta Dello Sport now reports that the Italian hitman may get his wish as Milan are apparently keen to secure the player on a permanent basis at the end of the season.
The Italian paper says a deal originally looked out of the question after injury kept Balotelli sidelined throughout most of the opening part of the season. However, the player's improvements in recent weeks have turned the Serie A sleeping giants' heads, both on the field and with his maturer attitude off it.
Balotelli apparently has until the end of the season to prove his progression, with the San Siro outfit ready to make a permanent offer over the summer mercato if his upturn continues.
AC Milan's honorary president, Silvio Berlusconi, earlier in February revealed that the Rossoneri could make a "financial sacrifice" to secure Balotelli should the striker prove his worth.
"Will we sign him outright? It depends on him," Berlusconi said then to Italia 7 Gold, as quoted by Corriere Dello Sport.
"He has extraordinary technical and physical qualities, especially if he can really show maturity in terms of his behaviour in his life and his position on the pitch. He drifts out to the wings too much. If he were to do these things we'd be very happy to make a financial sacrifice and keep him here with us."