Liverpool trio closer to exit

Reds flop Mario Balotelli has attracted interest from Italian sides Bologna and Sampdoria.
Reds flop Mario Balotelli has attracted interest from Italian sides Bologna and Sampdoria.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has excluded Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Jose Enrique from the Reds' final pre-season friendlies in another attempt to push them towards the exit door.

All three were omitted from Liverpool's recent tour of Asia and Australia as Rodgers looks to trim his squad following the arrival of seven new signings.

They have also been left out of the squad for today's friendly at HJK Helsinki, plus a game tomorrow against Swindon Town which is expected to feature the club's younger players.

It is also understood Balotelli, Borini and Enrique have trained separately from the first team at times this week.

Bologna and Sampdoria have both stated interest in taking Balotelli back to Italy but the striker's agent, Mino Raiola, has claimed the 24-year-old has no desire to leave Liverpool after only one season.

The sentiment is not shared by the club, who have brought in four attacking players this summer - Roberto Firmino, Danny Ings, Divock Origi and Christian Benteke - at a cost of more than £72 million (S$154 million).

Rodgers remains keen to trim his squad following the departures of forwards Raheem Sterling, Iago Aspas, centre-back Sebastian Coates, midfielder Steven Gerrard, goalkeeper Brad Jones and right-back Glen Johnson.

Rickie Lambert, 33, is set to be the next to head out of Anfield, with a move to West Bromwich Albion nearing completion after the Reds accepted a fee believed to be just under £3 million.

The former England striker joined his boyhood club for £4.5 million from Southampton last summer but made only 12 starts in all competitions, seven in the Premier League, and scored three goals.

Lambert, a former academy player with the Reds, has been given permission to undergo a medical at West Brom and will join James Chester and James McClean as the new faces in the squad should he agree terms.

Said Albion manager Tony Pulis : "Rickie is available. Liverpool have made that known. We'd be interested... He didn't play last year so it's like bringing a brand new car out of the garage if we did sign him. Just putting a bit of petrol in it and letting it run."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'Liverpool trio closer to exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe