Mario Balotelli was busy netting the game-winner against England for Italy in the 2014 World Cup on Saturday, but the striker is now making headlines as somebody who might be on his way to Arsenal following the proceedings in Brazil.
Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reports that Balotelli is a tempting target for Gunners coach 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.
This wouldn't be Balotelli's first tour through England in the Premier League. His time with Manchester City was largely unsuccessful due to off-field issues and problems staying out of trouble both on and off the pitch. That said, Balotelli was also known for netting important goals when his team needed them.
The latter fact about his time with Manchester City means that he'll come with a hefty price tag. Mino Raiola, his agent, told Sky Sports, via Toby Moses of The Guardian, that not every team in England can dish out enough money to pay the transfer fee.
"Only eight or 10 clubs in the world can afford Mario Balotelli – like all premium players, and he is one of the greatest."
Presumably, Arsenal are one of those eight or so teams. If so, then this move makes a lot of sense for the Gunners.
Arsenal are desperately in need of another striker to pair with Olivier Giroud. Giroud struggled in the latter portion of the Premier League season, leaving Arsenal without someone to consistently find the back of the net. Yaya Sanogo is a question mark as Giroud's backup, so there isn't even much depth to draw from.
Balotelli can give Arsenal the 20-goal scorer that it needs. His aggressiveness and ability to play up near the front of the net makes him a candidate to score 20-plus goals during the lengthy Premier League season.
His aggressiveness would actually benefit the entire team. His ability to push the ball up the pitch quickly will catch defenders off guard, making opportunities for his teammates. It would also encourage the rest of the attackers to stay up the field with him, ultimately creating more chances to score.
While Balotelli is perhaps more famous for his antics than his play, Wenger has the coaching ability and leadership qualities to turn Balotelli's career around. To this point, his career has been one of unrealized potential. That's mostly because of his inability to avoid troublesome plays and situations off the pitch.
Achieving success in England as a key member of the Gunners could potentially help Balotelli shed some of his previous reputation.
This is a transfer that makes sense for both sides, especially given Arsenal's willingness to bring in a scorer to pair with Giroud. Giroud certainly can't do it by himself, and Balotelli would help to take pressure of the striker.
Don't be surprised if talks regarding the transfer pick up quickly following the conclusion of the World Cup.
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