Report: New York City FC considered move for Liverpool's Mario Balotelli before signing Andrea Pirlo

The controversial striker could have followed Steven Gerrard to MLS this summer if reports are to be believed.

New York City FC considered a move for Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli this summer before eventually landing compatriot Andrea Pirlo, according to ESPN FC.

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.

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