Croatia international Mateo Kovacic’s protracted move to Liverpool seems certain to happen at some stage of the summer, with Reds boss Brendan Rodgers rather unfortunately described in the Italian press as being ‘in love’ with the Inter midfielder, who is reportedly keen on an Anfield switch.
Even before the recent departure of Steven Gerrard, who was forced to play deeper in midfield than his skill set competently allows at times under Rodgers, Liverpool’s centre of the park seemed imbalanced, with neither Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson nor Emre Can proving suitable anchormen.
Lucas Leiva is the only out-and-out holding-midfielder in Rodgers’ current squad, and the Brazilian’s ropey injury record since the Northern Irishman took charge has seen him fall out of favour more than once over the past three years.
With free signings James Milner and Danny Ings on board in attacking-midfield and up front, Liverpool are right to target midfield reinforcements (a right-back is also desperately required), but the Premier League’s sixth-ranked side are going about the Kovacic deal completely the wrong way if numerous reports are to be believed.
According to the Liverpool Echo, talkSPORT, the Daily Express and the Metro, the Reds have bid £15m plus Mario Balotelli for Kovacic, who Inter reportedly value at £22m. Unsurprisingly, the Serie A side said no.
First off, why would Inter take back a player who, as a troubled-but-talented 19-year-old at the club in 2010, accepted the gift of a Milan jersey on trashy Italian TV show ‘Striscia La Notizia’, before posing for a picture with it afterwards?
Balotelli only lasted another five months in San Siro after that incident, with Manchester City picking him up the following August, but the Palermo native managed to infuriate Inter fans further prior to jetting off when throwing his Nerazzurri jersey to the ground at the end of their 3-1 Champions League semi-final win over Barcelona.
And where did he skulk off to after a moderately successful yet oft-controversial two-and-a-half year stint at the Etihad?
The Rossoneri of course, which surely burned any bridges with his old employers, and Balotelli couldn’t find a way through Inter in three starts for Milan, which hardly recommends his ‘killer instinct’.
Old boss Roberto Mancini may be back in the Inter dugout, but the 50-year-old both bought and sold Balotelli when City manager, and is probably sick of the sight of him.
Furthermore, having watched Liverpool shell out £20m for Dejan Lovren from Southampton last summer, after initially holding tough on their £16m valuation, Inter chairman Erick Thohir will surely be confident of wringing the full amount out of the Anfield money men, in cash, for their star midfielder.