Chelsea have been dealt a blow in their search for attacking reinforcements after rumours linking Mario Balotelli with a move away from AC Milan this winter were termed false by the player's agent Mino Raiola.
The latest claims come in relation to quotes that were printed by Omar Al Raisi of United Arab Emirates newspaper The National, which had Raiola as stating:
Mario wishes to leave Milan in January. We don’t know where he will go at the moment, we are looking at the different possibilities. Chelsea is one of the options, but there has been no offers and I cannot comment [on whether] we have been contacted.
However, Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph tweeted Monday afternoon to say that he had spoken with Raiola, who firmly denied having made any such remarks:
It was over the weekend that a report from Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX surfaced (h/t Metro), claiming that Milan president Silvio Berlusconi had transfer listed the club's star striker, who is alleged to have angered the hierarchy at the San Siro.
Balotelli hasn't been as prolific this season as he was during his first six months back in Italy, hitting just six goals in 12 Serie A appearances this term, per Squawka.
The drop in form goes hand-in-hand with numerous other figures in the Milan squad, however, as the giants currently sit 13th in the Italian top flight, enduring one of their worst starts to a campaign in decades.
Chelsea's lack of firepower this season has seen the club become linked with a myriad of striking alternatives.
Jose Mourinho continues to juggle the attacking trio of Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba, who have scored just six Premier League goals combined this season.
Despite this drought up front, the rest of the Chelsea squad has made up for matters in front of goal and 13 different players have now scored for the Blues in their 2013/14 Premier League encounters.
Balotelli worked with Mourinho during their days together at Inter, where the duo won back-to-back Serie A titles, as well as the 2009/10 Champions League.
However, if Raiola's latest defence is to be believed, Chelsea will have to wait for a reunion between the two as Balotelli's plight at Milan lingers on.