Arsenal Transfer News: Mario Balotelli Hopes Boosted by Samuel Eto'o Rumours

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2014

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon waves prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Brazil at Estadio Nacional on June 23, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Mario Balotelli's potential move to Arsenal could become more probable after it emerged that Milan have entered the race to sign free agent Samuel Eto'o this summer as a possible replacement.

Simon Jones of the Daily Mail reports that the Cameroonian international, who played a role in the national team's pointless World Cup campaign this summer, is also wanted by Roma and Guangzhou Evergrande of the Chinese Super League.

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 22:  Mario Balotelli of Italy during training session on June 22, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The Gunners have been told Balotelli can be theirs for a sum of £29.5 million, according to Anthony Chapman of the Express, as Arsene Wenger looks to add attacking options to his squad that just weren't visible last season.

But the Rossoneri could have the same issue in signing Eto'o as Roma would, with the Express' Charles Perrin claiming Eto'o would require a salary of £60,000 a week, a high fee by Serie A standards.

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon reacts after a missed chance during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Mexico and Cameroon at Estadio das Dunas on June 13, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

However, his waived transfer fee means the expense would be more affordable, and Milan vice-president Barbara Berlusconi has hinted at being in favour of Balotelli's sale, per the club's official website (via the Daily Mail's Oliver Todd):

"Balotelli is a great player. But the way I see it, I don't believe that someone can be irreplaceable. We will see what happens."

The Azzurri striker is currently in Brazil playing a key role in Italy's World Cup hopes as the attacking focus of Cesare Prandelli's line-up, as illustrated by Infostrada Sports:

At 33 years of age, Eto'o would be a much shorter-term solution than Balotelli, but a prolific past in Inter colours might have Milan convinced the former Blues forward can still be a threat among the Italian elite.

Having scored 12 goals in 34 games for Chelsea last season, Eto'o is still performing at the top, and Cameroon manager Volker Finke is quoted by The Guardian saying his veteran could even last until the 2018 World Cup:

Arsenal started the 2013-14 campaign with the kind of form that had them painted as potential Premier League title contenders, but Olivier Giroud was one of several key components in the squad eventually too affected by fatigue as issues in depth gradually became more evident.

Bringing Balotelli to the Emirates would certainly go some distance in giving Wenger another elite option up front, together with Joel Campbell, who is returning from his loan at Olympiakos.

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 18:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan looks on prior to the Serie A match between AC Milan and US Sassuolo Calcio at San Siro Stadium on May 18, 2014 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The young Costa Rican has been extremely impressive at the World Cup, helping his side claim the scalps of Uruguay and Italy during its group-stage endeavours, showing that a prominent north London future may yet await him.

Milan will most likely seek to ensure that a deal for Eto'o—or any other replacement—is in place before they allow Balotelli to leave, but the promise of another experienced attacker being linked with the San Siro side is nothing but positive news for the Gunners.