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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


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.


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.


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.


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?

Share your thoughts below


  1. Balotelli to ref: “Watch me do a spot-on impression of Reptar from Rugrats.”
    Ref: “Damn, that’s frighteningly accurate.”

  2. You are wrong Ed. Even though it would never happen but Balotelli would be the best young striker in the MLS and the most volatile.
    Put your personal hatred aside. To say espn wouldnt care is ridiculous.

  3. I don’t know if this was covered earlier, but I’m sad to hear that Bryan Ruiz is out for the rest of the year with a metatarsal fracture. He’s come on extremely strong for Fulham, disappointing.

  4. How long will it be before the player Nikolas Anelka cusses out the coach Nikolas Anelka? The voices in his head might be very busy.

  5. Ah yes, my bad! Was thinking of all the Colombian signings and the general approach to such logistical matters in Latin America. Hopefully the Colombian officials wi underscore the point by being prompt and efficient.

  6. Dalglish wants to field a whole squad of english lads… foreigners or minorities.
    Suarez and Maxi are next out the door.

  7. Now that would be a circus. Non soccer fans would tune into sportscenter highlights just to see what this Jakkazzz would do.

  8. I don’t get how all the Liverpool fans are celebraiting Comolli leaving and blaming him for the Downing hire and some other moves. I think they’re misguided and Kenny Dalglish had a lot more to do with the players that were brought in than Comolli. If Comolli was behind selling Torres for $50 Million then he was the only shrewd man at the club. Dalglish is the problem with that club.

  9. Liverpool’s principle owner, John Henry, released a statement thanking Comolli for his 16 months of work in the job, adding “This hammer’s gonna be the death of me lawd, lawd. This hammer’s gonna be the death of me.”

  10. Liverpool is just a bad team. They could have bought both Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan for what they paid to acquire Andy Carrol. I would sat that only the Fernando Torres fiasco was a worse transaction than what Liverpool paid for Carrol.

    Anelka in China sounds like a repeat of Beckham in MLS during the 07-08 seasons.

  11. Really?

    Mancini JUST said that Balotelli wouldn’t see the pitch for City for the remainder of the season. Who is protecting this prick?

  12. “The deal is dependent on Henao receiving … International Transfer Certificate.”

    Well we may expect to see him in action as early as Independence Day, then, given how the Colombian FA moved on that for Rivero!

    You’d think if Pareja can find all these Colombian players, he’d also have some kind of in with TPTB…


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