“Still working hard” – Mario Balotelli trains with Liverpool U23s during pre-season

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After being left out of Jurgen Klopp‘s squad for Liverpool’s tour of the US, Mario Balotelli has linked up with the Reds’ U23s.

Balotelli finds himself surplus to requirements under Klopp this summer, with the German counting on Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings as his main centre-forward options.

With Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane also available up front, and Christian Benteke still in the squad at present, Klopp opted to leave Balotelli behind as his squad travelled to California.

This has left Balotelli to train with Michael Beale’s U23s squad, and taking to Instagram on Monday, the Italian underlined his commitment.

“Still working hard with reserve team,” he said. “Top quality session today with top players. #Respect”

The 25-year-old can be seen pictured with Kamil Grabara, Ben Woodburn, Harry Wilson, Tom Brewitt, Kane Lewis and Toni Gomes among others.

Balotelli’s application to pre-season training is said to have been with the utmost professionalism.

The striker is currently short of suitors in the summer market, however, with a host of Chinese Super League clubs now out of the running following the closure of their off-season window.

Serie A sides Sampdoria and Crotone have both been mooted as potential destinations, though no firm offer has been received so far.

Meanwhile, Turkish Super Lig side Besiktas ruled themselves out of the running in June.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, February 19, 2015: Liverpool's Mario Balotelli celebrates scoring the first goal against Besiktas JK from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If no buyer is found this summer, Balotelli could find himself demoted to Beale’s U23s squad on a permanent basis, following the announcement of a revamped reserve structure.

Premier League 2 has seen the previous U21s setup changed to allow a squad of players aged 23 or under, with clubs able to field three over-age outfield players as well as a goalkeeper.

How Beale and Klopp decide to utilise this new structure remains to be seen, though summer signing Alex Manninger is likely to feature heavily.

The likes of Ryan Kent, Lloyd Jones and Jack Dunn, some of the more senior members of Beale’s academy ranks, are set to leave on loan.

The prospect of Balotelli turning out for a reserve side seems outlandish, but it may be the only solution for the former AC Milan star this season.



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