Mario Balotelli is the latest on a never-ending list of strikers many Arsenal fans have pegged as the long-coveted answer up top. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger emphatically shot down rumors connecting the AC Milan front man to Arsenal, once again showing his genius in the process.
The Gunners have been linked to many players performing at a high level in Brazil, none more notable than Balotelli. Arsenal have been tied to the Italian striker as recently as Wednesday, when Express' Jamie Anderson reported the Gunners were choosing between him and Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez.
With rumors running rampant, Wenger quickly came in to quell the situation, per Sky Sports via beIN Sport:
Wenger has, however, played down talk of an imminent approach for the former Manchester City forward, branding the story 'pure invention'.
The Frenchman told beIN Sport: "We cannot believe absolutely everything that is on the internet or in the papers.
"Sometimes it is created by agents or by press who need news. But in this case, it's not true."
In sheer Wenger fashion, he shot down the Balotelli rumors with both ire and conviction.
Obviously, one comment from a manager can't go too far to dispel the rumors. It's likely Arsenal will continue being linked to Balotelli regardless, and it's very possible the Gunners are still interested in Balotelli despite Wenger's comments.
But given the situation they're in, and especially the situation Balotelli is presently in, Wenger and Arsenal would be smart to take a step back and pursue other options.
The options out on the market this summer aren't limitless, but to say Balotelli is Arsenal's best bet at striker would be a bit of a misjudgment. There are plenty of options available, most notably Mario Mandzukic.
The biggest reason why Balotelli would be smartly avoided by Arsenal lies within the Italian. The 23-year-old has been both one of the world's best strikers at times and a counterproductive part of the lineup at other times.
That has never been on more of a display than in Brazil. Balotelli was a force in the opening game with the game-winning goal over England, flamed out by missing two great chances against Costa Rica and could have been sent off against Uruguay after a controversial yellow card.
Arsenal are a squad that depend heavily on team play and strong chemistry. The fact they don't have a world-class striker is harmful, yes, but the system is much more benefitted from a player like Olivier Giroud—who knows his role and can be in the right spot at the right time—rather than Balotelli, one who will try to play hero ball and has a knack for making things about himself.
Of course, Balotelli's potential is so great that if he is able to repair his image for a few months while playing at a high level, that could be all it takes to land at a major club after AC Milan. Who knows, maybe he can do so without such an image repair—he's just that good.
However, at Arsenal, it just doesn't add up. Not unless Balotelli suddenly regains his form from Euro 2012 and can fit into a team-first mentality.
At the very least, Arsenal can use this comment from Wenger to see if the market cools a bit on Balotelli. After he got in the spotlight again for the wrong reasons as his Italy side leaves Brazil, he might see his price drop and allow the Gunners to nab him for cheaper than expected.
Either way, it's best for Arsenal—whether they want Balotelli or not—to calm things down for the time being.