Thursday Kickoff: Balotelli to stay in lineup, Rapids sign Henao, and more

Thursday Kickoff: Balotelli to stay in lineup, Rapids sign Henao, and more

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Thursday Kickoff: Balotelli to stay in lineup, Rapids sign Henao, and more

Balotelli getty

Mario Balotelli's future at Manchester City may be uncertain but manager Roberto Mancini will still need the temperamental striker in the final six weeks of the season.

Despite implying that Balotelli would not play for City again, Mancini said the 21-year-old striker will be selected for the April 30th matchup against Manchester United. Balotelli was hit with a three-game suspension for being sent off against Arsenal. The ban could have been as many as nine games but the FA decided not to take retrospective action for Balotelli's apparent stamp on Alex Song in the first half of Sunday's game.

The rumor mill is already in high gear as speculation over Balotelli's next destination swirls. Inter Milan and Juventus have categorically denied interest in the Italy international while AC Milan have also been linked.  Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola , has said he expects his client to stay at the Etihad Stadium next season.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday

RAPIDS SIGN HENAO

The Colorado Rapids have announced the loan signing of Harrison Henao from Colombian team Once Caldas. The 25-year-old midfielder made his debut for Once Caldas last season as the team marched to the Colombian League Championship. The deal is dependent on Henao receiving a P-1 Work Visa and International Transfer Certificate.

Henao will pair with fellow countryman Jaime Castrillon in a Rapids midfield that recently added skillful playmaker Martin Rivero.

CAMOLLI TO LEAVE LIVERPOOL

Liverpool have parted ways with director of football Damien Comolli by "mutual consent" after a disappointing season and a series of high-priced signings like Andy Carrol and Charlie Adam failed to meet expectations. Comolli, 39, will return to his native France for "family reasons."

Liverpool's principle owner, John Henry, released a statement thanking Comolli for his 16 months of work in the job, adding "the club needs to move forward." Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish retains his position despite Liverpool falling to eighth place and 33 points off the leaders Manchester United. Liverpool have won only two league games in 2012.

ANELKA APPOINTED PLAYER-COACH IN SHANGHAI

Nikolas Anelka will take over as player-coach of Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua, the club announced on Thursday. Jean Tigana will remain on as manager but Anelka will fill the role vacated when three assistants were fired following a string of poor results.

The 33-year-old former French International arrived in Shanghai over the January transfer window as the highest-profile foreign player to come to the Chinese League. Anelka was immediately named team captain but the club still languishes in the bottom half of the table. Tigana did not attend the press conference on Thursday.

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What do you think of today's stories? Should Manchester City keep Balotelli or cut their losses? Excited about Henao's arrival? Will Comolli's departure have a noticeable impact on Liverpool's season?

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