By Italy correspondent Gianluigi Carrozzini

Lazio have targeted a Mario Balotelli loan deal as they step up plans to end the striker’s Liverpool nightmare, Football Insider sources understand.

The Premier League club’s £15million valuation of the Italy international has put off clubs in his homeland.

But Lazio are keen on signing the Balotelli on a season-long loan from Anfield with an option for a permanent deal. Any Balotelli loan transfer would necessitate a fee of around £1.5million being paid to Liverpool.

The Serie A club have targeted the Anfield outcast after Miroslav Klose sustained an injury in a Champions League qualifier against Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday night that is expected to rule him out for an extended period.

Lazio chiefs have held discussions with Balotelli’s high-profile agent Mino Raiola in recent days in a new attempt to persuade the striker to return to Italy.

Sampdoria are also chasing the player, while there is interest in him from Premier League clubs Leicester and Watford.

Liverpool have made it clear that there is no place for the 25-year-old in the first-team squad this season and he will be allowed to leave if the right offer arrives.

The Merseysiders have given Raiola permission to negotiate a transfer for his client, who has been ordered to train separately to the senior squad at the club’s Melwood headquarters.

As reported by Football Insider, the Merseysiders will listen to offers for Balotelli this summer as well as his Italian team-mate Fabio Borini.

Balotelli had a disastrous season for Liverpool after signing from AC Milan in a £16million deal last summer. He has scored just four goals in 28 appearances, only one of which has been in the Premier League.