In a bid to link back up with his former Inter charge, Jose Mourinho hinted that Mario Balotelli could yet feature as part of his Chelsea line-up, with this summer being the next plausible stage where such a move could come to fruition.
However, it's a high-risk, possibly high-reward manoeuvre that should be avoided if the Blues are to end their recent spout of unreliable striker signings.
Upon being asked what the chances were of his outfit signing the Milan forward, here is what the Portuguese told Yahoo! Sports (h/t Sky Sports):
In football you never know the future.
Balotelli is with a big club at the moment but you never know the future.
They want to keep the best players and want to keep the best Italian players. But Mario has already been in English football before.
I'm not going to be manager of Milan or the Italy national team, but he's a good kid and somebody I'd like to work with again.
Having managed Real Madrid, Porto, Inter and others in the past, Mourinho has built up a thriving list of contacts in the football fraternity. However, this is one former relationship that doesn't need to be revived—at least not right now.
In terms of performance, Balotelli's standards have dropped off slightly this season, perhaps unsurprisingly considering it's a dip that most of the Rossoneri squad appear to have experienced in tandem.
According to Transfermarkt, the Italian international has scored 14 goals in 28 appearances across all competitions. While that number is superior to anything Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o or Demba Ba have mustered in the same period, it's not quite indicative of the pedigree Chelsea should be hoping to have lead their line.
His mediocre goal return is especially concerning considering Balotelli has had such a high shot count this season, as shown by WhoScored:
At 23 years of age, Balotelli still has a lot of maturing to do in his career and, as his time at Manchester City showed us, that aspect extends as much to his mentality as it does his on-pitch development.
Signs of that same, immature forward have been present, with Balotelli amassing a tally of 12 yellow cards this term—just two fewer than the amount of goals he's managed to grab.
Chelsea are in need of immediate impact, and in that sense, theguardian.com reporting that the Blues might pursue Monaco's Radamel Falcao and Matt Law of The Telegraph suggesting that they're interested in Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa makes more sense.
This is especially true given that none of the mentioned big-name forwards would come cheaply and the Blues are at a stage where their next big forward acquisition needs to pay back dividends.
If Mourinho is to trust in a younger asset, it would be more logical to allow Romelu Lukaku to remain at his parent club next season. Strong, powerful and with an eye for the extraordinary, the Belgian is of a similar profile to his Milan counterpart, albeit not identical in style.
After being loaned out to Everton this term, Sky Sports suggested that there may be a rift between Lukaku and manager Mourinho. If those bridges can be mended, however, the former Anderlecht talisman could yet be of vital significance to the Chelsea cause for years to come.
Wherever he has gone in his still-budding career as a professional player, goals have always followed Balotelli, but the negative connotations that he's brought with him have also seen his image tinged.
It's a risk that the West Londoners can't afford to take right now. In an area of the squad which, if resolved, could turn the club into a worldly force once again, Chelsea should play it safe with a purchase more tried and tested.
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