Manchester United could prevent Liverpool from selling misfit striker Mario Balotelli this summer, according to reports.
Balotelli struggled during his first season with the Reds, hitting the back of the net just once in 16 Premier League appearances as the Merseyside club slumped to a sixth-place finish.
The Italian international has been heavily linked with a move away from Anfield this summer, and it is understood Brendan Rodgers is keen to offload the former Manchester City man.
The Reds will have to take a financial hit on Balotelli after paying £16m from him last summer, but The Mirror reports that rivals Manchester United could get in the way of a sale.
Lazio are reportedly keen to sign the erratic striker, however they will only do so should the club qualify for this season’s Champions League.
Manchester United and Lazio could potentially face off in a Champions League qualification playoff, and a win to the Red Devils will likely end the Serie A club’s interest in Balotelli.
According to The Mirror’s report, Lazio are prepared to offer the Reds a £1.5m loan fee with a view to make the deal permanent for £12.5m.
It means Liverpool would recuperate most of its transfer fee for Balotelli, and there’s no doubt Reds officials will be hoping to see Lazio qualify for the Champions League proper.
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