By Alex Taylor

Mario Balotelli’s Liverpool exit is on hold after potential suitors have baulked at the Italy international’s wages, according to reports.

Italian publication Fantagazzetta claim that Sampdoria, who have shown interest in the forward, believe that his £5million annual salary is five-times greater than the Serie A club’s wage ceiling.

The report says that the Italian outfit can only afford to pay the player annual wages of £1million and so any potential deal would mean a sizeable wage cut for Balotelli.

The former AC Milan forward joined the Reds in a £16million deal in August 2014 after being brought in to replace the prolific Luis Suarez, and now has less than a year remaining on his current deal.

Since his arrival the 25-year-old has failed to live up to expectations, scoring just four goals in 28 appearances for the Reds.

Jurgen Klopp has made it clear that he wants to cash in on the striker and free up space on the Anfield club’s wage bill.

The former Inter Milan star missed out on this summer’s European Championships after suffering another wayward season in front of goal, bagging just three goals and providing one assist in Serie A this season while on loan to AC Milan.

The maverick goal-scorer has since returned to Melwood to train under Jugen Klopp ahead of the new Premier League season but is now behind Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and Danny Ings in the pecking order.

The centre-forward has enjoyed good spells in the Premier League before though, scoring 42 goals and notching seven assists in 93 appearance in all competitions in his three year spell with Manchester City.

Klopp has already been busy in the transfer window securing Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Loris Karius and Marko Grujic, whose £5million transfer was agreed in January.

In other Liverpool news, Lazio’s versatile forward Keita Balde Diao has decided not to join his squad for pre-season, alerting Reds manager Jurgen Klopp.