Arsenal Transfer News: Gunners Can't Give Up Joel Campbell For Mario Balotelli

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

Italy's Mario Balotelli attends a press conference at Arena Pernambuco stadium in Recife, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. Italy plays in group D at the soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

AC Milan are looking at swapping out-of-favour forward Mario Balotelli for Arsenal's Joel Campbell, according to reports in Italy, and such a deal is one the Gunners should avoid at all cost.

According to Tuttosport (h/t to Metro), the Rossoneri are keen on adding Campbell, who greatly impressed during Costa Rica's World Cup opening match against Uruguay.

That performance prompted Arsene Wenger to state Campbell would be joining his parent club next season, per Metro:

"He will definitely come back to us for pre-season.  He is maturing well."

Campbell's final season on loan with Olympiacos was a very successful one, with the winger reserving perhaps his best performances for the grand stage of the UEFA Champions League. The 21-year-old's development has been rapid in the last 18 months, and Milan's interest is only logical.

The Rossoneri brought Balotelli back to Italy during the 2013 January transfer window, hoping the troubled striker could lead the club back to the top of Italian football.

Balotelli's time with Manchester City had ended the same way his stint with Internazionale had—horribly. A brief period of productivity and flashes of potential soon made way for childish behaviour and tantrums both on and off the pitch, as Super Mario once again wore out his welcome.

A move back to his native Italy and a chance to play for his favourite club was seen as something of a last resort for Balotelli, and the first six months were a rousing success. The striker was scoring, Milan were winning once again and Balotelli finally looked as if he had turned things around.

One year later, Milan are willing to sell him to the highest bidder. Talented or not, the Rossoneri have seen enough. Balotelli is the biggest head-case in world football, and, after a while, the issues always start to outweigh the production.

According to WhoScored, Balotelli scored 16 goals in 38 appearances in the Champions League and Serie A last season. As the focal point of Milan's attack, that simply isn't enough.

Yes, Milan struggled greatly during the 2013-14 season, but it was Balotelli's job to help the team overcome those struggles. And that's something Super Mario can't do. Balotelli couldn't care less about the team—he only cares about himself.

Yet one solid performance during the World Cup was enough to make Arsenal fans giddy with excitement over the prospect of adding Balotelli, believing Wenger could "turn things around" for the youngster.

Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

With the Squadra Azzurri, Balotelli has no choice but to behave. The team is filled with veteran superstars who keep the forward in check, and players like Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon demand respect from everyone, including Balotelli.

On the club level, things are different. Balotelli has destroyed every dressing room he has ever set foot in, and his talents on the pitch simply don't outweigh all the negatives.

Rafael Hernandez agrees:

Campbell is an unknown for the Gunners. He has never played a meaningful match for the club, and nobody really knows how high his ceiling can be. But from what we can tell, he has all of the tools required to be a top-class winger, and his development suggests he still has plenty of room to grow.

Paying upwards of £20 million for the services of Balotelli is a huge gamble, and one the Gunners should think long and hard about. But losing out on a potentially great winger in Campbell for a known trouble maker isn't a gamble—it's plain stupidity.

There's a reason Milan are willing to sell their most marketable player, and there's a reason they're ready to swap him for Campbell. Keeping hold of the talented youngster who doesn't have a history of self-destructive behaviour is a wise move, and one Wenger should ultimately stick to.