Our original - and justified - skepticism is now moving very slightly towards taking this rumor a bit more seriously, as several media outlets in Italy are reporting this same thing in similar terms. Contacts between Fiorentina and Liverpool are apparently underway to try to orchestrate a straight swap loan deal exchanging Mario Gomez for Mario Balotelli.
Fiorentina's 30 year old German is almost certainly on the market after a disappointing two years in Florence and a high wage bill. Meanwhile, the one-time Italian international striker has not come close to maturing with Brendan Rodgers' team this season after a last-minute deal to bring him back to England last summer.
Balotelli wants to leave Liverpool, and not just because of the lack of playing time, as family time is important now: his father has recently passed. A return to Italy and his roots was beneficial to him briefly in the past as well, when he had his best spell as a professional, leading Milan to a Champions League place (at Fiorentina's expense) in 2012-13.
Sport Mediaset are even saying that Liverpool have already agreed to the one-year loan straight swap terms. While the promised land of a Balotelli finally "living up to his potential" may tempt some Viola fans, many others have already reacted with derision and disgust at the idea of the famously immature Balotelli in Florence.
Perhaps most significantly, the financial aspect remains a gamble, whether Fiorentina pays Balotelli's wages or Gomez's. Neither striker has been remotely consistent recently, and both are extremely expensive. If the point of selling Gomez is to save money and maybe get a better player, this hypothesized move could very well achieve neither objective.
We'll keep you posted on this one, but it might be a load of questionable guess work coming from bored Italian media.