Medical Today: Liverpool finally close to sealing deadline-day deal for 'incredible' €20m attacker

Finally! The Mario Balotelli saga is drawing to a close, with new reports today suggesting that the beleaguered striker will finally leave the club on transfer deadline day.

According to Sky Sports journalist Alan Irwin today:

“Mario Balotelli's nightmare period at Liverpool will probably come to an end today. He spent most of yesterday [in] France to conclude a deal with Nice. He’ll be off the wage bill by 11 o’clock tonight".

The Daily Mail further claims:

"Mario Balotelli is having his medical with Nice ahead of his move from Liverpool".

Balotelli is persona non grata at Liverpool, but he remains in demand amongst smaller European clubs , and in recent months, the President, owner, or manager of the following clubs has publicly confirmed interest in signing the Italian:

* Chievo, Nice, Sassuolo, Palermo, Besiktas, Crotone, Bologna, FC Sion, Sampdoria

Nice appear to have won the race, but even if a loan goes through, Liverpool will have to subsidise Balotelli's wages, though that's preferable to paying him the full £90k-a-week for sitting on the sidelines.

Can Balotelli resurrect his career in France, or will history repeat itself?

* Jul 2016: Described as an 'incredible talent' by Crotone president Raffaele Vrenna. Cost Liverpool €20m

Surprise Deal? Legend urges Liverpool to sign 'quality' £12m Arsenal outcast today as a replacement for Moreno

It's seven hours until the transfer window closes, and Liverpool fans will be hoping that Jurgen Klopp's stubbornness subsides long enough to allow the Reds to sign - at the bare minimum - another left-back. Over the weekend, Klopp reiterated once again that he's happy to shoehorn James Milner into the left-back role, but England legend Stuart Pearce as urged Klopp to reconsider, and insists he should raid Arsenal for a viable back-up option.

When asked today about full-back options, Pearce told Sky Sports:

"A good fit might be someone like Kieran Gibbs, who’s not playing at Arsenal. He’s got the experience, and needs first team football".

Gibbs was last linked with Liverpool in June, but two months later, Liverpool are still light on quality full-back cover.

Klopp recently claimed that he'd only sign a left-back if he found the 'perfect fit' for Liverpool, but are we to seriously believe that the club's vast network of scouts couldn't identify one viable, experienced, available option over the last 10 months? Give me a break. Klopp has had plenty of time to solve the left-back problem, and several other issues, but instead he has:

* Sh*tcanned all the club's back-up full-back options (Smith, Flanagan etc), and decided to play Milner out of position as a makeshift left-back.

* Sold a dedicated central midfielder (Allen), and bought an attacking midfielder (Wijnaldum) to play out of position in central midfield (with poor results so far)

* Left the club with only one midfielder who actually knows how to play DM, and is disciplined enough to do the job effectively (Lucas, who is regularly injured).

* Ignored and insulted Daniel Sturridge (by bringing him on in the 87th minute against Spurs), and played him out of position.

* Sanctioned a new 5-year deal for error-prone Simon Mignolet, then signed his replacement several months later.

* Marginalised and publicly criticised Sakho, and made it clear he wants him out of the club.

If Brendan Rodgers made these decisions, there'd be blood on the streets.

After last season's league debacle, Liverpool are currently 11th in the league, with 4 points out of a possible 9, and negative goal-difference. Additionally, poor full-back play is responsible (either directly or partially) for all of Liverpool's conceded goals this season. Unfortunately, Klopp's 'plan' doesn't appear to be any different to Brendan Rodgers:

* Slavish, pigheaded adherence to an ineffective style of football based on the manager's ingrained football philosophy (Tiki-Taka vs. Gegenpressing).

* Wasting money on the wrong players (Wijnaldum), and constantly using players out of position (Milner, Sturridge etc).

* Continuing to rely on players with a history of errors and/or gross inconsistency (Mignolet, Lallana, Moreno, for example) to the detriment of the team.

If Klopp continues in this manner, then - also like Rodgers - he will (deservedly) end up on the Anfield scrapheap.

At this point, I have zero faith in Klopp's ability to get Liverpool into the top four this season, but I am happy to be proven wrong, and if Klopp manages to achieve that feat, I will be the first to praise him for it.

As for £12m-rated Gibbs - he can't get a game at Arsenal, which suggests that Wenger doesn't trust his defensive abilities, and at the age of 26, he's unlikley to significantly improve.

Despite this, he's probably a better option than Moreno, which is another sad indictment of the club's current full-back options.

* Jan 2016: Described by Arsene Wenger as a 'quality player'

Deal Agreed: Liverpool seal cut-price €6m transfer for 'adventurous' attacker. Medical tomorrow

Last month, Sevilla's sporting director confirmed that the La Liga club had submitted an official offer for Liverpool outcast Luis Alberto, and although that deal fell through, it looks like the Reds have found another buyer for the Spanish attacker.

According to the BBC today:

"Liverpool have agreed to sell Luis Alberto to Lazio for £4.3m [€6m]. Alberto has travelled to Rome to discuss personal terms. The fee also includes add-ons and a 30% sell-on clause for the Reds".

Italian journalist Gianlucas DiMarzio adds:

"Lazio have found an agreement with Liverpool for Luis Alberto, who will undergo his medical tomorrow".

'Adventurous' Alberto cost Liverpool £6.8m in 2013, so this is arguably good business, and in the long-term, the club may end up actually making money (with the add-ons, and sell-on clause).

Alberto's stats for Deportivo La Coruna last season:

* 6 goals/8 assists in 31 games (One every 152 mins).

* Averaged 71 minutes of playing time per game.

* 31 chances created (1 every 68 minutes)

A decent creative return, but clearly not enough to break into Liverpool's starting line-up. Unfortunately for Alberto, his best position is central attacking midfielder (the role he played most often last season for Deportivo La Coruna), but with Coutinho, Lallana, and Firmino in the squad, there's no chance of getting regular game time in that role.

That said, 14 goals/assists in La Liga is creditable, and should've been enough for Klopp to give him one or two chances in the first team. However, like Markovic, Ilori, Sturridge et al, Klopp obviously doesn't rate Alberto, and I'd bet my bottom dollar it's because he doesn't run, press, and/or or fit the manager's concept of 'flexible football' (i.e. versatility over specialism).

As such, a move is the best solution. At the age of 23, Alberto needs to be playing regular first-team football, and he'll possibly have more chance of achieving that at Lazio. A

Offer Made: Liverpool favourites to sign 'amazing' €45m attacker before transfer deadline. Replace Sturridge?

Despite ongoing defensive woes, and a desperate need for a defensive-midfielder, Liverpool continue to be linked with strikers and attacking midfielders, with Gremio star Luan Vieira the latest name to enter the fray.

Last week, Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora claimed:

"Barcelona , Manchester United, Liverpool and Juventus want Luan, and Gremio have made it clear clear that he will cost €45m in the current transfer window".

Soon after, Gremio vice-president Alberto Guerra insisted: last week the club would consider offers should they come in:

"Every good player is targeted. If an offer arrives, we will analyse it".

Now, according to Brazilian radio station Futebol da Gaucha:

* Liverpool have submitted an official offer for Luan.

* Man Utd are also interested, but Liverpool are favourites after taking the concrete step of submitting an offer.

Some info about Luan:

* 23-year old striker, who can also play as false-9, or a right/left-winger. Current contract expires: 2018. 20 goals/15 assists (35) in 90 games for Gremio (One every 193 minutes)

* Aug 2016: 5 goals/assists for Brazil at the Rio Olympics.

* Feb 2015: Gremio's General Coordinator, Junior Chávare, raved: "Luan's potential is amazing, and he's only at about 55% of his ability".

* May 2014: Ex-Gremio manager Enderson Moreira's assessment: "Luan is a false-9. He spends half his time attacking/scoring, and half the time creating.

If Liverpool seal this deal, Sturridge is the player who'll be most under threat. Insincere rote praise aside, Klopp clearly doesn't rate Sturridge that highly, and hi poor treatment of the striker at Spurs speaks volumes:

* Dumped on the bench for the game after scoring two goals midweek.

* Ignored for Origi at a crucial stage of the game (i.e. when Liverpool still had time to get a winner). Origi did absolutely nothing of note during his sub appearance.

* Pointlessly brought on in the 87th minute, a disgraceful and pointless decision designed (IMO) to punish Sturridge for daring to publicly speak his mind.

Klopp basically cut his nose off to spite his face, and allowed politics to get in the way of decisions that benefit the team. If Luan signs, it'll give Klopp license to further marginalise Sturridge, even though the England striker's goals/assists record is in a different universe.

My message to Sturridge: quit Liverpool before the end of the transfer window. You will never prosper under a manager who prioritises running, stamina and pressing ability over individual expression, skill, and creativity, and that's Klopp to a tee.

You're Out: Klopp happy to sell 'excellent' Liverpool powerhouse; deal expected before transfer deadline

The Academy cull continues! After the departures of Rossiter, Sinclair, Canos, Vigoroux and a host of others this summer, Andre Wisdom appears to be the next youngster heading for the Anfield scrapheap.

According to the Liverpool Echo:

"Andre Wisdom is a transfer target for Celtic [and] will be allowed to leave Liverpool before Wednesday’s transfer deadline if a suitable offer is received".

If this news is true, it just goes to show that new contracts mean diddly-squat these days. Wisdom signed a new 'long-term deal' in May 2016, yet just three months later, the club is open to selling him off.

This is clearly a money-making strategy: tying young players down on long contracts = potentially bigger transfer fees, especially if the possibility of a deal arises soon after the new contract is signed.

It's a shame as Wisdom - once described by Jamie Carragher as 'excellent' - can provide cover at right-back, a position he's played a hundred times so far in his career (with 19 of those appearances for Liverpool).

After signing his new deal in May, Wisdom gushed:

"My future is definitely back at Liverpool because that is my dream".

Well, the dream appears to be dead.

Klopp confirms: 'Fantastic' £120k-a-week star is my 'transfer' solution for Liverpool and he'll 'play' at LB

Earlier this month, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp insisted that he'd only buy a new left-back if he found the 'perfect fit' for the club, and based on his latest comments, it appears that Liverpool's manager has found his 'perfect' left-back (and it won't cost the club a penny).

When asked in mid-August about bolstering the club's left-back options, Klopp told reporters:

"If we'd found the perfect fit...we would have made a transfer". We will only take another one if it's the guy we want".

When asked again on Saturday about signing a new left-black, Klopp dimissed the idea, and insisted:

“Milly can play it. We were convinced he could play the position and that's why we didn't make the transfer".

In my view, Klopp's stubbornness and inflexibility sabotaged the club's league progress last season, and the same thing is happening this season, too. If he can't see that Liverpool need a new left-back, then serious questions need to be asked about his ability to make the right decisions.

Danny Rose's goal on Saturday exposed yet again the glaring need for a dedicated left-back.

* Milner was ball-watching instead of tracking Dier's run. He got drawn towards the ball, and by the time he relised Dier was behind him, it was too late.

* 'Milly' (urgh) was 20+ yards away from Dier, who had acres of time and space to pick out his pass to Rose.

* Both Clyne and Mane failed to track Rose at the back post, and Spurs consequently scored.

Including the Rose goal, poor full-back play is responsible (either directly or partially) for all of Liverpool's conceded goals this season:

- Arsenal: Moreno badly out of position, which allowed Walcott time and space to pick his spot. Moreno also gave away a penalty with a trademark reckless challenge.

- Arsenal: Oxlade-Chamberlain waltzed past Clyne and into the box to score.

- Arsenal: Clyne gave away a silly free kick, from which Arsenal scored.

- Burnley: Clyne gave the ball away in a dangerous area, and five seconds later, Burnley scored.

- Burnley: Milner woefully slow to get back when Burnley counter-attacked. Ball played into Andre Grey, who had plenty of time and space due to having no left-back challenging him.

Yet, according to Klopp, Liverpool don't need any more full-backs (!)

If Klopp fails to fix this problem by the end of the transfer window - and Liverpool continue to leak goals as a result of poor full-back play - he'll deserve all the criticism that will inevitably come his way.

^ Reportedly on £120k-a-week. Hailed as 'fantastic' by Adam Lallana.

Deal Close: Boss confirms 'Liverpool' contact over transfer for 'incredible' €20m attacker. 'Offer' made

Is the Mario Balotelli saga finally close to being over? It looks that way, and after weeks of speculation, and false starts, new reports suggest that Balotelli may be on his way back to Serie A.

Last week, Sassuolo CEO Giovanni Carnevali confirmed that he'd 'refused' the opportunity to sign Balotelli, but according to Palermo Vice-President Guglielmo Miccichè this weekend:

“We made an offer [for Balotelli], and now it’s up to Liverpool and the player. He was born in Palermo and we consider him a Sicilian. He would be welcomed with open arms and adored by the fans. A player like him would be a dream for Palermo".

Italian newspaper Tutto Mercato adds:

"Mario Balotelli has accepted the idea of ​​moving to Palermo".

Gazetta Dello Sport further claims:

* Palermo have offer £850,000 a year, which would give Balotelli £16,000-a-week.

* Balotelli has less than 24 hours to decide on the deal.

Balotelli has his issues, but there are no shortage of clubs trying to sign him this summer, and at least eight of those have publicly declared interest in the Italian.

A move to Palermo (the place of his birth) makes sense, but unless Balotelli takes a massive pay cut, Liverpool will have to subsidise a huge chunk of his wages (£74k-a-week)

That's still cheaper than keeping Balotelli at the club and paying him £90k-a-week for nothing, so just do it.

* Jul 2016: Described as an 'incredible talent' by Crotone president Raffaele Vrenna. Cost Liverpool €20m

Contact Made: Liverpool submit €15m offer for 'unbelievable' record-breaking attacker. Agent confirms deal is unlikely

Earlier this year, Sport1.de claimed that Jurgen Klopp will 'pull out all the stops' to sign BVB starlet Christian Pulisic, and new reports this week suggest that Klopp has now taken the first concrete step towards signing the coveted attacker.

In April, the Daily Mail:

"Klopp has instructed his scouts to monitor Pulisic...and Klopp has put Pulisic on Liverpool’s long-term radar, viewing him as one of the premier talents in Europe".

According to ESPN on Friday:

"Liverpool have offered €15m for Christian Pulisic. Stoke have [already] bid €20m, with Leipzig and Stuttgart also linked".

When asked this week about Pulisic's future, the 17-year old's father (and Agent) told reporters:

"Christian has no interest in leaving the club. He had a good half year last season, and wants to continue to break through."

Klopp brought Pulisic into Dortmund's first-team squad during the 2014-15 season, and after watching him in training, he enthused:

"He did a good job. He can kick the ball around really well. And in a very intense training session with narrow spaces, he did not stand out in a negative way. That is a real sign of quality."

Talk about being damned by faint praise. Some info about Pulisic.

* 12 goals/assists in 14 games for BVB's U19s. 11 goals/assists in 8 games for the U17s. 12 apps for Dortmund's senior team (2 goals/assists).

* Youngest-ever player to appear in a World Cup qualifier for the US national team.

* Jan 2015: U.S. U17 manager Richie Williams raved: ""When [he's] playing that No. 10 position, Pulisic isn't scared, he's willing to take anybody on and he's super competitive".

* Mar 2016: Ex-BVB Coach David Wagner's view: "I spoke with Jurgen Klinsmann a year ago about Christian's unbelievable quality for his age. He's one of the biggest talents I've seen."

This is typical Klopp. The team needs full-backs, and a defensive midfielder, but Liverpool's manager is seemingly focused on bringing in yet another number-10.

What difference is a 17-year old with comparatively minimal experience going to make for Liverpool this season, and why would Dortmund accept €15m when another club has (allegedly) offered €20m?

In my view, it'll be a massive mistake for Pulisic to swap Dortmund for Anfield. Where's the fire? Just stay and develop alongside great players like Reus, Aubameyang et al. It's madness to leave such a great *Champions League* club at the age of 17.

Author: Jaimie K

Confirmed Teams: Klopp drops 'amazing' £30m attacker; surprise on the bench; reckless decision to start Coutinho?

Despite scoring two goals against Burton Albion on Tuesday, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has dropped Daniel Sturridge for today's crunch clash with Tottenham Hotspur.

FULL TEAM: Mignolet, Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Coutinho, Firmino

SUBS: Manninger, Grujic, Moreno, Lucas, Sturridge, Origi, Stewart

SPURS: Vorm, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Wanyama, Eriksen, Alli, Lamela; Kane (c)

* It looks like Sturridge has paid the price for daring to publicly question Klopp over his starting position this week. It could just be a tactical move, but Sturridge is the club's most effective goalscorer, and dropping him after scoring two goals is poor man-management (IMO).

* Klopp is taking a massive gamble by starting Coutinho, who suffered a hamstring injury just a week ago. In my view, it's a reckless decision, and it'll come as no surprise if the Brazilian gets injured again today.

* Klavan is dumped from the matchday squad, which seems harsh. It looks like Klopp prefers Lucas as central defensive backup (he's the only player on the bench capable of playing at centre-half), but again, that seems a tad reckless given the fact he's just returned from injury.

* It looks like Klopp is going to persist with playing Wijnaldum in central midfield. The manager's stubbornness knows no bounds. Probable formation:

----------- Mignolet
Clyne -- Lovren - Matip ---- Milner
--- Lallana - Hendo -- Wijnaldum
Mane ------ Firmino ---- Coutinho

Liverpool have a great recent away record at Spurs, and given the fact the team only bothers to turn up in big games, the Reds will probably win today's game.

^ Sturridge: £30m-rated. Described as 'amazing' by Lucas Leiva.

Done Deal: Liverpool confirm transfer for ex-Man Utd 'threat' who idolises Beckham

With Jon Flanagan, and Brad Smith already gone, Liverpool have now confirmed the exit of yet another full-back.

According to a statement on the official Liverpool FC website:

"Liverpool defender Sam Hart has joined Port Vale on loan, subject to EFL clearance".

Some info about Hart:

* 19-year old left-back. Poached from Manchester United in 2012. Football hero is Utd legend David Beckham.

* Description on the LFC website: "A left-back, who relishes going forward and poses a real threat down the flank. Can carry the attack with his fine athletic profile. Very strong in the tackle".

* Briefly featured in Liverpool's 4-0 pre-season defeat to Mainz.

Realistically, there's little change of Hart making the breakthrough this season, so a loan deal is probably the best option.

One thing is clear: Liverpool's development of full-backs is seriously flawed. Even with the current left-back crisis, none one of the club's academy full-backs is deemed to be good enough to provide cover, and that's an issue that needs to be addressed.