Liverpool signed Italy striker Mario Balotelli from AC Milan on Monday for a reported $26.5m, taking a calculated gamble on a headline-grabbing player known as much for his controversies as his goals.

Nineteen months after ending a two-and-a-half-year spell with Manchester City to play for his boyhood club, Balotelli will return to the English Premier League as a replacement for Luis Suarez - another of world football's talented but disruptive stars.

"I'm happy to be back because I left England and it was a mistake,'' Balotelli said in a Liverpool statement.

"I wanted to go to Italy but I realised it was a mistake.''

Balotelli, who has signed what Liverpool said is a "long-term deal'', has already trained at his new club and will attend the team's Premier League game against City at Etihad Stadium.

He wasn't registered in time to play.

During his time at City, in which he won the league title, Balotelli was sent off four times, threw a dart at a youth-team player and was involved in an incident that saw fireworks explode in his bathroom.

Source: AP