Super Mario is returning to the Premier League as Liverpool have signed AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli for £16m.

Balotelli announced the move this morning in Milan telling reporters before training:

“This will be my last day at Milanello.”

The £16m transfer fee means that Milan will take a £3m loss on a player who scored 30 goals in 54 games for the Serie A club since joining in January 2013.

supermario

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lvg-woodwardWith less than two weeks left in the transfer market, another Manchester United manager is getting hung out to dry by Unted’s executive vice chairmanEd Woodward.

Last season David Moyes took a lot of heat for United’s laughable summer transfer activity, but as history is set to repeat itself, it is clear that the fault for United’s poor season last season rests with Woodward.

Woodward has been brilliant extracting maximum revenue from United’s corporate partners, selling the brand around the world. But as his third transfer window gets closer to closing he has yet to demonstrate that he can apply that negotiating savvy to a very different trading environment; the transfer market.

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Rafael BenitezOn the first night of the Champions League playoffs, we did not get our usual blowouts, instead we got competitive matches that are all finely balanced heading into the second legs next week.

The headline match was Napoli v Athletic Bilbao in Italy and this tie could go either way as they head back to Spain tied 1-1. Athletic got on the scoreboard first when Iker Muniain scored four minutes before the break in Naples.

Napoli hit back after the interval as former Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain fired a leveller on 68 minutes but the Basque outfit will fancy their chances of winning the second leg and progressing to the next stage.

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Barça MegastoreBarcelona have had their appeal against a two-window transfer ban rejected by FIFA following a hearing on Wednesday.

The Spanish giants will be barred from signing players in the next two transfer windows, taking them through until January 2016, after breaking the transfer rules related to signing players for their famed La Masia academy,

Barca though are not taking the decision well and have already announced, just as they did with the Luis Suarez ban, that they will now appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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louis-van-gaalLouis van Gaal believes Manchester United‘s 2-1 home defeat by Swansea City in his first competitive game as manager accurately reflects the enormity of the task ahead of him. Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Old Trafford was the first time in Premier League history that the 20-time champions – who finished seventh last season – have lost an opening-day fixture at home.

A spate of injuries forced Van Gaal to hand competitive debuts to two academy graduates – Tyler Blackett and Jesse Lingard – and his three central defenders had an average age of 22. Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera made his competitive debut, but United’s only other close-season recruit, left-back Luke Shaw, is currently sidelined by a hamstring injury.

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luis-suarez-barcelonaBarcelona head coach Luis Enrique has confirmed Luis Suarez will play in the pre-season clash on Monday.

The head coach says he has been impressed by the Uruguayan in training this weekend and will give him some playing time in the Gamper Trophy

The Uruguayan returned to training this weekend after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) reduced his ban from football to allow him to take part in training and club friendly matches.

And Luis Enrique has been sufficiently impressed by Suarez to allow him some playing time in Monday’s Gamper Trophy encounter.

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ConteThe stars aligned perfectly for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) as they were able to name former Juventus boss Antonio Conte as the new head coach of the Italian national team. Conte replaces Cesare Prandelli who resigned at the end of the World Cup finals in Brazil after seeing his Azzurri side fail to progress from a group which also contained England, Uruguay and Costa Rica.

An FIGC statement read:

“President (Carlo) Tavecchio and Antonio Conte spoke directly by phone this morning to define the final aspects of the collaboration that will bind Antonio Conte to the FIGC until 31 July 2016.

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sergio-agueroAfter last weekends disastrous performance at Wembley against Arsenal, more than a few pundits were expecting Manchester City to come unstuck again today as they made the always difficult trek to Newcastle.

And they left St. James Park with all three points after David Silva gave the defending champions the lead in the 38th-minute when he made the most of Edin Dzeko’s intelligent back-heel. City fans will feel they were good value for the points after creating the better chances, although the result remained in doubt until Sergio Aguero scored in added time to secure the 2-0 win. City’s movement and passing were characteristically impressive, their finishing less so, although Newcastle were unable to work City goalkeeper Joe Hart to any real extent despite enjoying their fair share of possession.

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MLS LogoCharlie Davies scored his second goal in as many games as the New England Revolution were held at home by the Portand Timbers while elsewhere in MLS, Sporting Kansas City opened up a five-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference as they cruised to a 4-1 win over Toronto FC.

Both teams came into the match at Gillette on the wrong side of the playoff standings, and it looked like it was going to be the Revolutions’s night when in the 27th minute Davies ran onto a Diego Fagundez through ball to make it 1-0.

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daniel-sturridgeLuis who? A lot of the talk this summer has been how Liverpool can replace the 30+ goals that Luis Suarez scored last season. What has been lost in the conversation is that the other half of the SaS partnership, Daniel Sturridge is still a Liverpool player.

On Sunday Sturridge shouldered the responsibility as Liverpool’s new main man up front with a late winner in a 2-1 defeat of Southampton at Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers has spent most of preseason working on improving Liverpool’s shaky back-four, but that unit showed that they are not yet a fully formed defensive unit when goalkeeper Simon Mignolet got in a tangle with Graziano Pelle at Southampton’s first corner, almost presenting the visitors with an easy chance.

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