Mario Balotelli's World Cup Form Shows Why He Would Be Perfect for Arsenal

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Mario Balotelli's World Cup Form Shows Why He Would Be Perfect for Arsenal
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

It is not a coincidence that there have been a glut of stories linking Mario Balotelli with Arsenal recently.

Balotelli is just 23 years old but was the centerpiece of AC Milan's attack last season. In one of the more subdued campaigns of his still-young carer, the Italian finished with 14 goals in Serie A, or almost a goal for every other game he played.

He also has put some—though certainly not all—of the massive attitude issues that blighted his time at Manchester City behind him. Balotelli is still a live wire, and the press still rightfully monitor him, but he seems more relaxed than he was in the Eastlands.

It also looks like Balotelli has brought his best form to the World Cup this year. Though he has only played one match, it was a superb display.

Operating as a lone striker, he almost single-handedly shredded England's defense at times and proved able to make chances for himself. That is something Arsenal and Olivier Giroud are terrible at doing, as the Gunners rely heavily on creative midfielders and wingers to put the ball on a plate for the striker.

Case in point: Balotelli's magnificent chip that almost resulted in the most spectacular goal of the World Cup against England.

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Shoved to the flank and with no support around him, he easily could have stalled and passed to someone else further back on the left wing. Instead, Balotelli trusted his ability and lifted a sumptuous chip while the ball was nearly stationary that almost beat a worried Joe Hart in goal.

This is exactly the sort of player Arsenal need: a striker brimming with confidence and who has the ability to justify his confidence and hubris with truly staggering natural talent.

Balotelli obviously has no trouble performing against elite opponents, as he already has a significant portfolio of games against the world's top sides. Two years ago, at the age of just 21, he sent Italy to the final of Euro 2012 and stripped his shirt off in celebration.

Everyone knows that Arsenal are in desperate need of another striker this summer. Olivier Giroud is simply not enough up front all by himself and needs to be rotated like every other player in the team.

Moreover, Giroud is simply not the sort of genuinely upper-echelon talent who deserves a consistent starting place at Arsenal. The Frenchman undoubtedly has moments of brilliance, but he cannot repeat them on a consistent basis—and especially not against the best opposition.

The Gunners need one addition to numerically boost the squad and improve its quality.

What better player is there to do so than Balotelli, who is perhaps the only striker on the open market who physically fits the bill?

Because Arsenal play a one-striker system, the lone frontman has to be a large, strong striker who is capable of both doing the dirty holdup play and assisting the smaller creative players with their more intricate work.

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It's certainly a difficult role to fill well, and thus the very best in the position in the world are largely bought up. It explains why, for example, Bayern Munich were willing to pay such a large fee and wage for Robert Lewandowski—probably the best at the role in the world—when they already had a very good option in Mario Mandzukic.

The 6'2" hunk of muscle that is Balotelli has shown that he is capable of handling the uniquely rough style of the Premier League and operates best when he is the only striker in the starting XI. So tick that box.

Remember price, as well. This is Arsenal we're talking about, no matter how much money Arsene Wenger is reported to have in his transfer fund.

The Daily Mirror (via the Independent) are one of many sources reporting a transfer fee of around £25 million for Balotelli. In this transfer market, where David Luiz sells for double that, nabbing a player as young and talented as the Italian would be an absolute coup.

Before he makes a move, though, Wenger will have to calculate whether Balotelli will be poisonous to the dressing room and if he wants to risk the rest of the team becoming the striker's sideshow.

Even if Balotelli has cleaned up is act, which he looks to have done to some degree and which Wenger will accomplish regardless, the ravenous English press will instantly descend upon the Italian when he returns.

That means an electron microscope on Balotelli literally every time he steps out of his own house. He must know that this awaits him if he leaves Italy and AC Milan.

But in terms of pure footballing reasoning, he would be an ideal signing. With Balotelli adding tremendous power and unpredictable raw talent to the squad in addition to the already-solid Olivier Giroud, Arsenal's title dreams will be revitalized.

 

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