Mario Balotelli is set to join Vasco de Gama on a free transfer, putting an end to Barnsley’s hopes of signing the Italian forward.

The 30-year-old has been a free agent since leaving Italian side Brescia over the summer and is poised to pick Brazil as his next career move in football.

Championship side Barnsley, who sit 17th in England’s second tier, held talks with Balotelli, as the club’s co-chairmen Chien Lee and Paul Conway know the player well from his time at Nice.

However, the former Manchester City and Liverpool striker became less interested in a move to the south Yorkshire club as talks progressed. Now the Vasco de Gama sporting director, Fabio Cordella, is confident in the transfer going over the line.

Cordella said, via The Sun: ‘Mario Balotelli at Vasco da Gama is not a dream, but pure reality.

‘We are working together with his agent, Mino Raiola, to try and bring one of world football’s best players to Brazil.

‘Mario is increasingly convinced by our project, and the idea of moving to one of the world’s most fascinating leagues fills him with enthusiasm.’

Balotelli has hinted that a move to the Brazilian side is nearing closer, posting an Instagram video of him saying: ‘I wanted to compliment the new president of Vasco, Leven, and director Fabio Cordella. See you soon.’

Speaking about the post, Cordella said: ‘That video pleased me greatly, and it proves that Mario is already in our world.

‘He is an exceptional and honest lad, and here in Brazil he will be able to play a leading role once more.

‘We tried to convince the outgoing president, Alexandre Campello, to bring Mario to Brazil for the end of November – but he didn’t want to do so. So everything has been put back to January.’

Balotelli made his name at Inter Milan under Jose Mourinho, before moving to Manchester City in 2010 where he was part of the club’s title-winning side in 2012.

After a brief spell in Milan between 2013 and 2014, the Italian forward moved to Liverpool but failed to make an impact under both Brendan Rodgers and Jurgen Klopp, so returned to Milan on loan.

The 30-year-old had a three-year spell at Nice before having short-term stints at Marseille and boyhood club Brescia – where he fell out with the club’s owner Massimo Cellino.

He began training with Serie D side Franciacorta this month to improve his fitness while being a free agent.


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