Arsenal Transfer News: Mario Balotelli's Reduced Tag Is a Gamble Worth Taking

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

BERGAMO, ITALY - MAY 11:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan shows his dejection during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and AC Milan at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on May 11, 2014 in Bergamo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Mario Balotelli's World Cup capitulation means that the Milan striker's stock is currently at an all-time low which, depending on one's opinion of the player, can fluctuate wildly.

However, when talking about pure finances, Rossoneri president Silvio Berlusconi has halved the attacker's price tag, as reported by the Express' Jamie Anderson, to now sit at just £14.5 million, a figure which should interest the usually cost-effective Arsenal.

NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Mario Balotelli of Italy reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

In his report, Anderson quotes Berlusconi as allegedly proclaiming:

"I was about to sell Balotelli to an English team for several millions. But after this World Cup who will buy him anymore?"

It seems an awfully severe reaction to the international tournament's fallout, which did in fairness see Balotelli net the winning goal in a 2-1 triumph over England.

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 18:  Mario Balotelli of AC Milan in action during 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

Admittedly, the 23-year-old had a Brazilian expedition to forget, but the same can be said for a lot of this Azzurri squad, numerous members of which didn't help their figure up front in finding the back of the net.

Instead, it's Balotelli's attitude that remains in need of some adjustment, and upon penning his resignation from the national team, Cesare Prandelli left a note on the striker, per the Press Association's Cindy Garcia-Bennett (h/t Daily Mail):

I told Mario when we said goodbye that if he wants to become the player he thinks he is, he needs to face reality and not live in his virtual world. I told him that he needs to learn from this experience because the national team needs him.

Given the Gunners' need for competition up front, it's a very agreeable sum, even with all the potential hazards and disruption that Balotelli's signature may bring.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  Olivier Giroud (L) and  Mathieu Valbuena of France celebrate after defeating Nigeria 2-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria at Estadio Nacional on June 30, 2014 in Brasilia, Braz
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Olivier Giroud's form flagged last term due to fatigue and the burden of having to lead the club's strike force almost single-handedly for months at a time, and Joel Campbell's capacity as a first-team player is still debatable.

Tancredi Palmeri of beIn Sports says that Monaco have already lodged a bid for the forward's services, but they saw their advances rejected:

For Arsene Wenger, it's very much a question of whether or not he feels he can tame the beast. In a footballing aspect, Balotelli is a known quantity in front of goal, and with a healthy chain of ammunition, he can thrive.

Last season, he scored 14 goals in 30 Serie A appearances during a tumultuous season for Milan and hasn't failed to score in the double digits since 2008, taking into account all competitions.

Mario Balotelli Last Five Seasons
SeasonClubAppearancesGoals (All competitions)Goal Ratio
2011-12Internazionale40110.28
2010-11Manchester City28100.36
2011-12Manchester City32170.53
2012-13Manchester City & Milan33150.45
2013-14Milan41180.44
Transfermarkt.co.uk

At 23 years of age, Balotelli also retains a great deal of re-sale value, and were his North London trial to go awry, Arsenal should feel confident of recouping a majority, if not all of their investment.

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 20:  Mario Balotelli of Italy reacts to a missed change during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Costa Rica at Arena Pernambuco on June 20, 2014 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Should the prescribed figures be true, Balotelli is most certainly a risk worth taking when considering the Gunners' need for reinforcement in his position. 

The only thing left to factor in is whether or not this is a summer where the club can afford to take such gambles, or if more tried and tested assets are needed.