Friday Kickoff: Barcelona confirm Suarez transfer; Inzaghi backs Balotelli; and more

Friday Kickoff: Barcelona confirm Suarez transfer; Inzaghi backs Balotelli; and more

International Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Barcelona confirm Suarez transfer; Inzaghi backs Balotelli; and more

Luis Suarez of Uruguay

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Luis Suarez is no longer a Liverpool player.

After his best season since moving to the English Premier League, the Merseyside club have agreed to offload the Uruguayan forward to FC Barcelona for a reported €81 million. Suarez is expected to arrive in Barcelona next week for a medical and to be officially presented as a Barcelona player. Suarez has signed a five-year contract with the Catalan club.

“The club have done all they can over a sustained period of time to try to keep Luis at Liverpool,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said in a club statement. “It is with great reluctance and following lengthy discussions we have eventually agreed to his wishes to move to Spain for new experiences and challenges. We wish him and his young family well; we will always consider them to be friends.”

Suarez, who was banned from all soccer-related activity by FIFA for a four-month period, won’t be able to even train with Barcelona until October 25. FIFA had also leveled a 14-month transfer ban last April on Barcelona for reportedly illegally registering Under-18 players with the club, but the ban was temporarily lifted on appeal.

The 27-year-old forward led the EPL last season with 31 goals and picked up a number of individual awards including the football writers Player of the Year award.

Here are some more notes to start your Friday:

NEW MILAN COACH BACKS BALOTELLI

Mario Balotelli has been a lightning rod for criticism recently, but AC Milan manager Filippo Inzaghi believes that Balotelli can channel that criticism positively.

Balotelli struggled in the second half of AC Milan’s season last spring and only scored once as Italy crashed out in the group stage for the second consecutive World Cup. However, the new Milan coach Inzaghi is backing the team’s star forward ahead of the next season.

“I spoke with Balotelli after Italy’s exit and I told him that the criticism should serve only to strengthen him,” Inzaghi said on Thursday at a festive preseason training kickoff event at the club’s new downtown headquarters. “I didn’t have everything served to me on a silver platter during my career; unfair criticism helped me.”

Balotelli scored 18 times in his first full season with AC Milan, after joining the club in Jan. 2013.

QUICK KICKS

FIFA have fined Argentina’s FA CHF 300,000 for failing to bring a player to four pre-match press conferences. (REPORT)

Arsenal are close to acquiring young Spanish right back Javi Manquillo on loan from Atletico Madrid. (REPORT)

Levante’s vice president claimed that Keylor Navas is set to complete a €10 million move to Bayern Munich. (REPORT)

Former Atletico Madrid and Wolfsburg midfielder Diego has signed a contract with Fenerbahce. (REPORT)

Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande have announced the signing of Alberto Gilardino. (REPORT)

Alessandro Matri has completed a transfer move from AC Milan to Genoa. (REPORT)

Charlton FC have signed Israeli international defender Tal Ben Haim on a free transfer. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? How do you expect Suarez to play alongside Neymar and Messi? Do you think that Liverpool are getting fair value for him? Do you believe the criticism could help Balotelli?

Share your thoughts below.

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