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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Aug 25, 2014

Liverpool sign Mario Balotelli

Controversial striker Mario Balotelli completed his 16 million pound switch from Milan to Liverpool.

Liverpool have completed the signing of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan.

Balotelli, 24, underwent a two-part medical evaluation in Manchester and Liverpool on Friday and Saturday after the Reds agreed to a 16 million pound fee with Milan.

The Italy international, who has signed a long-term deal, met his new teammates on Monday and took part in a short training session. He will travel to watch them face his former club Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Monday night.

"I always start a competition wanting to win it," Balotelli told Liverpool's official website. "We will see. I want to win another Champions League, for sure, because the Champions League wasn't all mine; I was in a team. I want to take this team to the Champions League."

Balotelli admitted that just 18 months back in Milan had convinced him he should return to the Premier League.

"I'm happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake," he said. "I wanted to go to Italy, but I realised it was a mistake. English football is generally better. English football is beautiful."

Balotelli was given a rough ride by Liverpool fans during his visits to Anfield while with City, but he has already been given a warm welcome by supporters who had been mourning the departure of Luis Suarez.

"I didn't expect it [the warm reception] because whenever I played against Liverpool, the fans weren't nice with me, but that's normal; it's football," Balotelli said. "Now that I play for Liverpool, I can see the expectation in people. They're very happy, and that makes me very happy at the same time.

"To play here for Liverpool excites me, but if you're an opponent, it's difficult. Liverpool are one of the best teams here in England. The football is very good here. It's a great team with young players, and that's why I came here."

Manager Brendan Rodgers said the deal was "outstanding value" for a "world-class talent."

"This transfer represents outstanding value for the club, and I think we have done a really smart piece of business here," Rodgers told the club's official website. "There is no doubting Mario's ability. He is a world-class talent and someone who, for such a young age, has vast experience of playing at the very highest level.

"He has scored goals in the Barclays Premier League, in Italy, in the Champions League and for his country at international level. I believe we have the infrastructure, culture and environment to get the best out of him and help him achieve his true potential. We are a strong group here, committed to hard work, and he will benefit from being around it.

"I am looking forward to working with him and helping him learn more, improve and progress as a player. I'm sure the supporters will make him feel very welcome."

How many league goals will Balotelli score this season?

Milan have issued an statement wishing the player all the best.

"We worked well together, Mario. We've been happy to have had you here and for this we say good-bye and thank-you," said the statement on the Serie A club's official website. "In one year and a half you've achieved a lot. You were decisive in our qualification for the Champions League in 2013 and were our top scorer last season.

"This is what your Milan thinks of you and this is our chance to confirm it publicly. There have been lots of memorable moments. The goal-scoring debut versus Udinese, that late winner versus Torino at the San Siro in May last year, the decisive goal against Siena and the screamer against Bologna on Valentine's Day at the San Siro.

"Thank you for everything and for what you have done at the club. We wish you the very best of luck for your next sporting and professional adventure."

Reports have suggested that the forward will be paid a base salary between 80,000 and 90,000 pounds per week, a significant drop on the 160,000 pound weekly salary he is believed to have been earning at Milan.

It had been reported that Balotelli's contract at Anfield would include a good behaviour clause -- although this has been denied by his agent Mino Raiola.

"Mario will not have a different contract to the other Liverpool players," Raiola said. "He will have to follow the code of conduct of the club, like all the others."

Liverpool have been seeking a top-class striker to strengthen their forward line throughout the summer, a requirement that became more pressing following the sale of Suarez to Barcelona on July 16.

An 8 million pound deal for QPR's Loic Remy collapsed on July 27 amid concerns about his medical evaluation.

Liverpool initially approached Milan about the possibility of taking Balotelli on loan, but discussions hit a buffer as the Serie A club rejected the idea of a break clause in the deal if the striker misbehaved.

But the Reds were willing to meet Milan's 16 million pound asking price to buy the player -- significantly less than the 25 million pounds that clubs were being quoted earlier in the summer.

Balotelli spent two and a half years at Manchester City after joining from Inter Milan in July 2010.

His time at City had controversy, including incidents in which fireworks were set off in his bathroom and he threw a dart at a youth-team player as well as a public fallout with manager Roberto Mancini.

However, he helped City end a 35-year wait for a trophy as they lifted the FA Cup in 2011 and set up Sergio Aguero's stoppage-time winner against QPR on the final day of the following Premier League season as the club became champion of England for the first time since 1968.

The striker was unable to help Italy beyond the group stage as this year's World Cup in Brazil, although he did score the winner as they beat England 2-1 in their opening match.

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