Mario Balotelli is one of the current villains in English football after his winner against the Three Lions in their opening game of the World Cup, with England having subsequently crashed out of the tournament after a narrow defeat to Uruguay. However, in the background of all this, rumors have been mounting that Balotelli is moving ever closer to a shock return to the Premier League, with London-based club Arsenal emerging as front-runners to secure the Italian’s signature.
The reports are claiming that the AC Milan striker is being inspected closely by manager Arsene Wenger, who has made him the club’s number one target this summer and reportedly met with Balotelli’s agent in Brazil this weekend to discuss the transfer. The Italian striker could either replace Giroud or supplement the Frenchman, with Balotelli regularly starting alongside Dzeko and Aguero in his time at Manchester City.
Balotelli left Manchester City after falling out with manager Roberto Mancini, and he was quickly sold to Italian side AC Milan. But with the club struggling in Serie A at the moment, it is plausible that Balotelli could be looking to complete a move away from the Milan side.
His transfer fee is tipped at £27 million, with AC Milan knowing they need the money if they are to replace him successfully. Arsenal have supposedly already offered him wages of up to £180,000 per week.
In 30 league games for AC Milan, the 23-year-old scored an impressive 14 goals, making it nearly a goal every two games. This is made even more impressive by the fact that the side he was playing in finished 8th this season. A striker scoring more or less every two games in a team which struggles so badly is very impressive.
Balotelli can score from all over the park, as he proved this season. He scored one close range header, several close range goals and even a screamer from 33 yards out on the angle. Balotelli can also create chances, which is key for fluid, fast attacking sides such as Arsenal. Last season in Serie A, he contributed six assists to the side as well as making 26 key passes.
But away from the stats, what sort of player is Mario Balotelli? He is a modern striker in every way. He is fairly fast, very strong, and reads the game extremely well, leading to some great runs off defenders’ shoulders such as the headed goal against England where he peeled off his marker. He is a clinical goalscorer and an emphatic penalty taker, so any penalties Arsenal win will be guaranteed to be dispatched by Balotelli.
The main negative for the striker is his temperament, or lack off it. He is prone to childish outburst on the field, lazy and stroppy attitude when things aren’t going his way and he has the worrying nature of always being close to a red card. But if Balotelli can work on his attitude, then he will undoubtedly become a key figure in next year’s Arsenal side.
Arsenal are in desperate need of a striker to either replace or play with Giroud, and for a fee of £27 million, Balotelli is a viable candidate to make an impact at the Emirates.
Written by Joshua Bean