Eredivisie side Ajax have almost sealed qualification for the Champions League, with a move for Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli now more likely.
Balotelli emerged as a possible target for Peter Bosz last week, with the club reported to have entered “preliminary talks” with his agent, Mino Raiola.
This would see the Italian replace Arkadiusz Milik, who joined Napoli in a deal worth almost £30 million on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old is believed to be receptive to a move to Amsterdam, despite their strict wage structure—with Ajax not paying their players over £40,000 a week.
However, a move was said to have hinged on Ajax qualifying for the Champions League for 2016/17, and by defeating PAOK on Wednesday night, Bosz’s side secured their place in the competition’s playoff round.
After drawing the first leg of their third qualifying round clash 1-1 last week, two goals from Davy Klaassen ensured a 2-1 win at Stadio Toumba, and a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Ajax will now take on one of AS Roma, Steaua Bucuresti, AS Monaco, Young Boys and Rostov over two legs, to played on August 16/17 and August 23/24.
Victory in this final qualifying round would see Ajax be among the 10 sides to join the Champions League‘s current 22-club roster.
Therefore, Ajax would be an attractive destination for a player like Balotelli, who won’t feature under Jurgen Klopp even if he remained on Merseyside for the campaign.
Balotelli is currently training at Melwood alongside Mamadou Sakho, who was sent home from Liverpool’s pre-season tour of the US following Klopp’s concerns over his attitude.
Unlike Sakho, Balotelli won’t return to Klopp’s first-team ranks for the season, and a move seems inevitable.
Short of suitors at this stage of the summer, Balotelli will be hoping Ajax can secure Champions League qualification.
The Eredivisie challengers are believed to be assessing other options, however, with Balotelli only one of many potential targets.