The controversial striker could have followed Steven Gerrard to MLS this summer if reports are to be believed.
Balotelli, 24, endured a torrid 2014-15 campaign at Liverpool after making a £16 million move from AC Milan last August, netting just four goals in 28 total appearances, while running into various on and off-field controversies over the course of the season.
The Italian international now looks set to leave Anfield in the near future after being left out of the club’s pre-season activities, with the latest reports linking him with a loan move to Lazio [h/t Standard].
However, the polarising front man could have followed Steven Gerrard across the Atlantic if ESPN FC’s report is to be believed, having been one of several big-name targets on NYCFC’s radar.
The expansion side have struggled to find a suitable strike-partner for club captain David Villa throughout their inaugural campaign and would have benefited from bringing in an established goalscorer to replace the misfiring and now-benched Adam Nemec.
Balotelli was said to be one high-priced option in consideration, but management then decided to go in an entirely different direction once then-Juventus and Italy midfielder Pirlo became available.
Some might be quick to suggest that the club dodged a bullet there but, at the same time, the latter’s signing received a fair amount of backlash, despite his known qualities and bulging medal collection.
NYCFC already had a strong midfield before his arrival while, at 36 years old, there are serious questions over whether the former World Cup winner will be able to fit into the same line-up as fellow veteran Frank Lampard.
Given both the potential risks and finances involved in a deal for Balotelli, it is understandable that the club would decide against making a move for the Reds outcast but, with their defence going through some serious struggles at the moment, it would have made far more sense to sign a proven centre-back rather than Pirlo instead.