Carlisle United have made a highly unlikely – and tongue-in-cheek – pitch to tempt Mario Balotelli to Brunton Park.

The wayward former Manchester City and Liverpool star is a free agent after leaving Marseille this summer.

And the Blues have told the maverick Italian, whose wage demands are about £3.6m a year, that the charms of Cumbria could be just what he needs to revive his career.

Carlisle’s director of football David Holdsworth said he made the light-hearted suggestion to one of Balotelli’s representatives during a conversation this week.

“I said Mario could come over and we’d have a look at him – we’ve got a little bit of budget left!” Holdsworth said.

“I told one of the agents that works with him that he would love the country walks here and he’d enjoy himself in the area.

“There are lots of appealing things in Cumbria and the Carlisle fans would love him as long as he worked hard for us.

“He’s a free agent, after all – if he wants to come and say hello to Carlisle, I haven’t got a problem with it…”

In the unlikely event of 28-year-old Balotelli snubbing the golden opportunity to lead the line for the Cumbrians in League Two, he could join Brazilian outfit Flamengo, with whom he has held talks.

United, meanwhile, are waiting for progress on their actual striker targets.

Manager Steven Pressley is hoping to bring in a Championship loan player who he has been eyeing all summer.

The move appears to depend on the club concerned doing enough business so that the player can be allowed out to Brunton Park for the season.

It remains a waiting game for the Cumbrians who hope the approach of this Thursday’s transfer deadline for the top two tiers will help their cause.

Leagues One and Two have until Monday, September 2 to make signings.

Carlisle have alternative targets at different Premier League and Championship clubs but Pressley is currently holding out for his first-choice option.

It remains to be seen whether the Cumbrians will be able to add to their squad ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swindon.

Hallam Hope remains a doubt for the game, meanwhile, with United yet to confirm the extent of his injury after further assessment on Monday.

United’s first goalscorer of 2019/20, Harry McKirdy, will be hoping to build on his positive start and Pressley believes the former Aston Villa man can seize his chance this season.

McKirdy scored after six minutes against Crawley, making him Carlisle’s fastest opening-day scorer since Paul Murray against Doncaster in 2006.

Pressley said: “I said to him the other day, was it his first season where he was going to start his first senior game on the opening day? And it was.

“He said he’s always onto his agent on the first day looking to get a loan move, so to go out there and get a goal with his head – which he’s never done before – is great for him.

“He’s also such an exciting player. He gets people off their seats and he always looks like he can make something happen. I’m pleased for him because he’s a really good kid.

“He takes a bit of managing but he’s a good kid underneath that.”

Kyle Soper, Jamie Armstrong and Taylor Charters (two) scored as United's youth team began their league season with a 4-2 win against Blackpool yesterday.