Liverpool signs Balotelli
Liverpool signed Italy striker Mario Balotelli from AC Milan for $26.5 million Monday, taking a calculated gamble on a player known as much for his controversies as his goals.
Nineteen months after ending a 2½-year spell with Manchester City to play for AC Milan, Balotelli will return to the English Premier League.
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“I’m happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake,” the 24-year-old Balotelli said. “I wanted to go to Italy, but I realized it was a mistake.”
Balotelli, who has signed what Liverpool officials said is a “long-term deal,” spent his first day with his new team watching the Reds lose 3-1 at Manchester City in a league match. He wasn’t registered in time to compete.
Balotelli scored 26 goals in 43 league matches for AC Milan and he is the Italian national team’s top active striker, scoring 13 goals in 33 matches.
Balotelli has lived up to his billing as one of the sport’s box-office draws with a string of incidents on and off the field.
Whether setting his bathroom ablaze with a firework in 2011 (“got unlucky,” he said); throwing a dart at a Manchester City youth-team player the same year; or wearing the jersey of Inter Milan’s fierce rival, AC Milan, on live television in 2010, Balotelli frequently has been in the headlines.
Manager Jose Mourinho described Balotelli as “unmanageable” during their time together at Inter, which the striker left in 2010 to join Manchester City.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said, “He knows himself this is probably his last chance. Mario is someone we can improve both as a footballer and as a person. He has a reputation, but we hope he can curb that behavior. He knows his flaws and faults and he is looking for someone to help him. There is no better club for him.
“Of course, it is a risk.”
Simeone gets a suspension
Spanish champion Atletico Madrid will have to find a way to win without its inspirational manager, Diego Simeone, for eight matches.
The Spanish federation suspended Simeone after he was sent off for a vehement protest that included tapping an assistant referee on the head during the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.
Simeone will miss four Spanish-league matches, with the remaining four-match ban applying to future Spanish Super Cup play. He also was fined $6,339.
Simeone, 44, already was suspended from Atletico’s league opener at Rayo Vallecano because of a suspension that carried over from last season.
Assistant German Burgos will guide the team in Simeone’s absence.
Anderson signs extension
Goaltender Craig Anderson has signed a $12.6 million, three-year contract extension with the Ottawa Senators.
Anderson, 33, will make $4.75 million in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and $3.1 million in 2017-18.
Anderson had a league-best .941 save percentage in the lockout-shortened 2013 season to help Ottawa make the playoffs. His percentage was .911 last season.
Klitschko suffers injury
Wladimir Klitschko tore his biceps while sparring and his Sept. 6 heavyweight-title bout against IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev has been postponed.
Klitschko’s management team estimated the champion will have to miss four weeks of training. A new date for the fight will be announced later. It will likely take place in Hamburg, Germany, the original venue.
• New York state’s inspector general, Catherine Leahy Scott, says horse-race bettors were overcharged more than $7 million because of failures by the group that runs New York Thoroughbred tracks Saratoga, Belmont Park and Aqueduct.
A report criticizes the New York Racing Association for charging 1 percent more for some wagers for 15 months beginning in September 2010. The law that allowed racing operators to take the extra money had expired.
• Australian cyclist Michael Matthews of the Orica GreenEdge team sprinted to victory in the third stage of the Spanish Vuelta to take the overall lead in the 21-stage event.
Matthews covered 122.9 miles from Cadiz to Arcos de la Frontera in 5 hours, 12 minutes, 14 seconds. He has a four-second lead on Colombian Nairo Quintana of the Movistar team.
• Retired basketball center Patrick Ewing, a Hall of Famer, and sports agent David Falk are donating $3.3 million to Georgetown’s new athletics center.
School officials said the amount of the gift reflects the uniform No. 33 Ewing wore at Georgetown and in the NBA.
Seattle Times news services