Transfer Tracker

Report: Toronto FC "interested" in star-crossed Italian striker Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli - close-up - looking into the distance - playing for Nice


Odds are you’ve seen the recent chatter about Mario Balotelli mulling a move to MLS in general terms, without the specific mention of a club. On Monday, however, the name of one potential North American suitor bubbled up in the Italian press.

Toronto FC are “interested” in the mercurial 29-year-old striker, alleges journalist Nicolo Schira, who adds that Turkish outfit Galatasaray are also considering a move for Balo. It’s unclear how TFC might utilize him given that they already have a comparable frontrunner in Jozy Altidore, but the Reds do look likely to have a Designated Player slot opening up for 2020 with the expiration of Michael Bradley’s current contract.

Currently at Serie A cellar dwellers Brescia, the eighth club in his peripatetic professional career, Balotelli has found it rough going of late. He’s experienced multiple incidents of racism in his home country, some from opposing fans in stadiums and the latest at the hands – or rather, mouth – of his own club’s owner, Massimo Cellino, while also struggling to produce consistently on the pitch.

Balotelli reportedly signed a multi-year contract with Brescia when he arrived in August after a few seasons in France’s Ligue 1, and it’s unclear whether they’d demand a transfer fee or let him depart on a free.

Highly talented but inconsistent, Balo has won three Serie A championships, one in the English Premier League and a UEFA Champions League title as well as myriad individual honors, including a place in the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2012.

Update: On Monday night, TSN reporter Kristian Jack cited sources saying that the Balotelli rumors were "completely false," while alluding to the ongoing effort to keep captain Michael Bradley in Toronto.