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Liverpool knew what they were getting into when they bought Mario Balotelli, but things are starting to unravel faster than anyone predicted on and off the pitch, amid claims that he could be on his way as soon as January. One goal so far this term is bad enough, but his body language and shirt-swapping antics have made things worse and now it has emerged that the moody striker is being investigated by police after allegations that he "threatened" a woman whose daughter was taking pictures of his Ferrari.
The BBC reports that the incident occurred on Thursday afternoon when a resident in the Wythenshawe area of Manchester called the city's police. Greater Manchester Police later released a statement in which they said: "We received a report of threatening behaviour and we are investigating."
According to the BBC the woman alleges that Balotelli "moved towards her daughter, who was taking a picture of the red sports car, which was parked on the pavement". Other news sources claim that the Liverpool striker was visiting his mother's home in Manchester when the alleged incident took place.
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The police are yet to take a statement from Balotelli – and it might turn out to be much ado about nothing – but it is more unwanted attention for the 24-year-old striker.
On Thursday morning he was reminded by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers about the "culture" of English football after the Italian was seen swapping shirts with Pepe at half-time during the Reds' Champions League clash with Real Madrid the previous evening.
Balotelli might have got away with his foolish gesture had Liverpool played well in the first-half. But they were trailing 3-0 at the time, on the brink of humiliation to the European champions, and Balotelli's exploits reinforced the view among a growing number of Liverpool fans that he doesn't hold the club in great esteem.
Asked if he had punished Balotelli for his gesture, Rodgers replied: "Any action with Balotelli over the shirt swap will of course be kept within ourselves... we had a conversation on the culture in this country and, in particular, Liverpool - and that was it - matter closed."
Balotelli arrived at Liverpool in August in a £16m transfer from AC Milan. Rodgers admitted at the time he was taking a punt on a paid up member of the awkward squad and unfortunately the gamble is in danger of spectacularly backfiring. With just the one goal in ten appearances for the Reds, Balotelli has become the focus of fans' discontent with a season that so far has been a pale imitation of last year when Liverpool came agonisingly close to winning their first league title since 1990.
The Daily Telegraph claims that Liverpool will look to offload Balotelli in January "unless he dramatically improves his form" between now and then. The paper adds that Rodgers "will assess over the next two months if the calculated risk is ever likely to yield a return". If he concludes that it's not, then Balotelli will be able to add Liverpool to the growing number of clubs who have tried and failed to bring him to order.
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