Mario Balotelli could soon be tearing through Premier League defences once more, as reports link Arsenal with a move for the striker who put England to the sword during Italy's recent World Cup win.
As reported by Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail, Balotelli is proving to be a tempting prospect for Arsene Wenger:
Arsenal have intensified their interest in AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.
The Italy international features highly on Arsene Wenger's shopping list as the manager looks to sign a new central striker. And Gunners chiefs have now made initial overtures with regards to a move for the former Manchester City striker.
Who should start up front if Arsenal sign Mario Balotelli?
The AC Milan forward "is understood to want to come back to the Premier League," according to John Cross of the Mirror, who indicates Wenger could pay up to £25 million for the 23-year-old's services. While an in-form Balotelli repays that kind of cash instantly, Wenger is sure to be wary of spending so heavily on a player who has the capacity to disrupt.
But then again, this is the manager who offered £40 million and £1 for Luis Suarez, who has also struggled with behavioural problems in the past. Balotelli the player possesses everything Wenger's side needs: pace, power, aerial presence, the ability to hold up play and an astuteness in front of goal. Balotelli the man may still need developing under the French manager's gaze.
Premier League fans know exactly what to expect from the youngster who has already played for four clubs in his career.
His time with Manchester City was defined by off-the-field mishaps and disciplinary problems on the pitch, but occasionally, very important goals. He has the ability to excel in England if consistency is found, but Wenger would need to coax it out of the player who struggled for a run of form during the 2013-14 season at the San Siro.
Arsenal crave a 20-goal-per-season man to handle duties alongside Olivier Giroud, with Squawka's Sam Parker suggesting Balotelli can offer far more than just hitting the back of the net, as his analysis highlighted after the striker's display against England:
Balotelli has proven his doubters, who suggested Ciro Immobile could replace him in the [Italy] starting line up, wrong with a fine performance in which he maturely stuck to his role as an attacking outlet and left the haring about to his supporting cast.
He would likely have a similar role with the Gunners, where much of the haranguing would come from Arsenal's midfield. Wenger would likely use Balotelli to pressure defenders in possession, while making sure he keeps the attacking line high up the pitch.
Owen Gibson of The Guardian believes that, even if Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis is spotted at Italy's matches during the World Cup, fans shouldn't get too excited:
For Arsenal fans getting excited about Gazidis watching Balotelli, I should point out he is also on the FA's international committee.— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) June 15, 2014
Balotelli's career is perhaps one of untapped potential, at least on a consistent basis, so it's easy to understand why the so-called bad boy remains a prospect for top clubs. He is a player who can win matches with a moment of genius but also surrender his team's chances through a flash of stupidity.
Wenger has the tools to advance the striker's game and could easily build his Arsenal team around the physical player. Balotelli represents a risk at the £25 million mark but is more capable of providing plenty of reward if he can be set to task without any nonsense.