Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Mario Balotelli a High-Risk Target for Gunners

Phil Haigh@@philhaigh_Contributor IFebruary 19, 2014

AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Arsenal may be lacking depth in their options up front this season and manager Arsene Wenger is expected to strengthen that position this summer, but bringing in AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli would potentially create more problems than it solves.

According to Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express, "Arsenal will make a move for Mario Balotelli in the summer after Arsene Wenger held talks with the player’s agent this week."

The 23-year-old certainly fits the Arsenal mould of being young and gifted, but given the Italian’s roller-coaster ride of a Premier League career with Manchester City from 2010-13, he can hardly be described as a dependable character either on or off the pitch.

The fiery forward made just 49 starts for the Citizens and scored 30 goals, which is no bad return, but he also picked up four red cards in that time as wella record that will not impress the Arsenal hierarchy.

It was his antics away from the football pitch that he is most remembered for in England, many of which painted him and his employers in a negative light.

Notable incidents included Mario throwing darts at youth team players and setting part of his house on fire by letting off fireworks from his bathroom.

Arguably the most unsavoury of all Balotelli’s misdemeanours though was a training-ground scrap with his manager at City, Roberto Mancini, which The Guardian documented. Wenger is hardly likely to welcome that sort of behaviour at the Arsenal training centre in London Colney.

The unpredictable Italy international was simply seen as more trouble than he was worth at City, hence why he was sold to AC Milan in January 2013 for £5,000,000 less than what they paid for him.

Milan have enjoyed his positive side so far this season, as Balotelli has notched 14 goals in 24 games across all competitions for the Rossoneri. This, however, is another reason why he would be such a risky signing for the Gunnershe will be very expensive.

According to The Independent, AC Milan are said to have valued the striker at “twice the cost of Gareth Bale.” Although that is certainly an exaggeration, Arsenal may well have to shell out around £40,000,000 if they want to bring Super Mario to North London.

Given his record of bad behaviour, a transfer fee in this region has to be seen as a colossal risk for any club.

It seems an especially unnecessary risk when considering how well Olivier Giroud has performed this season and that Arsenal really only need backup for him. The Frenchman has returned 13 goals this campaign for the Gunners and led the line commendably, making a mega-money deal for a replacement seem like an unusual move.

There is no doubt that Balotelli is an incredible talent, but having already been on the books of three major European clubs by the age of 23, whether any manager can handle him has to be brought into question.

Wenger prides himself on nurturing young, skillful players and has had success with men who have failed at other big clubsmost spectacularly with Thierry Henry.

However, never has he dealt with someone with the temperament of Balotelli, who is a headache the Professor could do without.