Mario Balotelli has done his chances of finding a new club ahead of the season no good at all after he was pictured smoking while on holiday in Italy.
Balotelli did not seem too concerned about who saw him as he puffed away while enjoying a break on the Italian Riviera wearing a black baseball cap backwards and black t-shirt.
He looked as if he did not have a care in the world as he dined at the Strainer Restaurant after taking a boat trip with friends around the coast in Portofino.
Balotelli was seen lighting up in the company of friends at the seafood restaurant while he sat on the balcony overlooking the picturesque marina in the coastal town near Genoa.
The striker was told by manager Jurgen Klopp that he was not in his plans at Liverpool and to find a new c It is not the first time that Balotelli has been spotted smoking, back in 2014 he was pictured lighting up while on holiday in Miami.
And it was a concern for loan club AC Milan last season that a ‘good behaviour’ clause was inserted into his contract while he was with the Italians.
Part of the clause was that he was not to damage the image of the club and his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts were closely monitored.
He was also banned from extravagant haircuts and clothing, from smoking and from visiting nightclubs and had to turn up on time to training. And his drinking was also limited.
Balotelli returned from Italy this summer but was told by Klopp at the start of this month that he was free to find another club and remained on Merseyside to train with the Under 21s while the first team headed to the United States for their pre-season tour.
Over the weekend, Dutch club Ajax were linked with a move for the striker as they are looking to bolster their attacking options.
It is believed that preliminary talks have taken place between Ajax’s hierarchy and Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola to gauge how keen he would be on moving to Holland.
Liverpool have not received an official approach from Ajax but they have left Raiola to flush out interested parties and Balotelli has shown a willingness to drop his current £90,000 per week terms to fit in at Ajax, who do not pay salaries above £40,000 per week.
Balotelli has 12 months remaining on his contract but Liverpool would still look to recoup some of the £16m they paid for him in 2014 – potentially £6m – as part of the summer clearance. Balotelli is one of at least six players who are expected to leave Anfield before the window closes and Turkish club Besiktas have also shown an interest in the Italian striker.
Whether these pictures of Balotelli smoking in Italy will harm any potential move is unclear, but the sight of a professional sportsman puffing on a cigarette is unlikely to endear him to any suitors, especially in an age when players are expected to be in peak physical condition.