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Arsenal Transfer News: Milan Admit Mario Balotelli Doubt, Iker Casillas Stays

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MAY 24:  Iker Casillas of Real Madrid gives the thumbs up after victory in  the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at Estadio da Luz on May 24, 2014 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured Columnist IVDecember 21, 2016

Reports linking Milan striker Mario Balotelli with a move to the Emirates Stadium this summer have intensified after president Silvio Berlusconi hinted the Azzurri front man could leave the San Siro.

Speaking to the Italian press, per Simone Bargellini and Nadia Carminati of Sky Sports, Berlusconi said, "Will Balotelli stay? We have not decided about the market yet, neither for signings or for sales. We are evaluating, anyway, new players, but to take decisions we must wait for the new coach."

FLORENCE, ITALY - JUNE 02:  Mario Balotelli of Italy during a training session at Coverciano on June 2, 2014 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The report confirms that former Rossoneri talisman Filippo Inzaghi is expected to take over from Clarence Seedorf at the club's helm, but Balotelli's future remains uncertain.

Simon Jones of the Daily Mail says Milan have offered the forward to Arsene Wenger's side for a fee of £30 million, but Swansea City's Wilfried Bony could be a far cheaper pickup at £19 million, according to the Mirror's Darren Lewis.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Wilfried Bony of Swansea City (L) shoots past Jack Colback of Sunderland as he scores their third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Swansea City at Stadium of Light on May 11, 2014 in Sunde
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

That's the fee clubs will have to pay in order to trigger the Ivory Coast international's buyout clause. After scoring 25 goals across all competitions last term, he could be worth the sum.

Swans midfielder Leon Britton commented on his teammate's maiden campaign in England, giving Bony his full support to go on and succeed at the 2014 World Cup, beginning June 12, per Wales Online's Chris Wathan:

I think it took a little time for him to get up to match speed while it took us players some time to get the best out of Wilf and provide him with the service he needs to punish teams. But he’s finished the season with 25 goals and that was a superb return for him and the club.

He has a World Cup to look forward to now. It would be great to see him continue his form in the World Cup. He has proved a real beast for us, and he’s a real menace for defences because they can’t deal with him. So it wouldn’t come as any surprise to see Wilf getting a few goals at the World Cup for the Ivory Coast. We’ll all be cheering him on.

Olivier Giroud did well to hold up Wenger's attack for the first half of the 2013-14 campaign, but a lack of alternatives ultimately told as fatigue settled in and the French forward was handed too hefty a burden.

Sky Sports' Peter Hall calls Bony the signing of the season:

There's news at the other end of the pitch too. Iker Casillas will not be leaving Real Madrid this summer, per Carlos Carpio of Spanish newspaper Marca.

It had been speculated that after slipping behind Diego Lopez in Real's goalkeeper pecking order, the Bernabeu stalwart could head for pastures new this summer, but a meeting with club president Florentino Perez has assured the stopper of his future in the capital.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Carpio claims both Perez and Casillas were keen for the latter to remain with Real, and so Wojciech Szczesny will not be competing with the Spanish No. 1 for a starting spot anytime soon, it would seem.

A more pressing concern for Arsenal's back line is that of finding a replacement for Bacary Sagna, who recently confirmed that he will be leaving Arsenal on a free transfer, per the Daily Mail's Matthew Morlidge, with Manchester City looking his most likely destination.

Toulouse right-back Serge Aurier has arisen as the Frenchman's most probable replacement in recent weeks, but when speaking to French radio station RMC this week (h/t 101GreatGoals), the defender's agent moved to dissuade rumours of a move to North London: “There is no agreement with Arsenal. We’ve talked in past but there has been nothing recently. We’re in talks with another English side.”

Just who the unnamed English outfit are is still up for debate, but if there is competition for Aurier's signature, it may be wise to wrap up his purchase before the World Cup.

 

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