With the transfer window gaining momentum, fans up and down the country - and across Europe - will be wondering which players, if any, will be coming and going at their club. January is traditionally a tricky time to find a top class signing, with players cup tied and clubs demanding extortionate fees with the fear of being unable to find a replacement. But as far as drama and mega-money deals go, the January window is as good as - if not better than - the summer window.
Recent years have seen the likes of Luis Suarez join the Premier League and the British transfer record smashed in 2011 when Chelsea paid £50million for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres. The 12th January window has a lot to live up to - previous windows have seen the likes of Mikel Arteta, Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, David Luiz and Papiss Cisse join English football. With a record £225m spent last winter, all eyes will be on the totalizator to see if it is beaten this time around. But there are some big names being linked away from their clubs this time out. Karim Benzema and Juan Mata are the standouts, with Jermain Defoe also tipped to leave Spurs and join MLS. But there is one name on everybody’s lips, a name that is never far from the headlines: Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli has been linked with a move away from AC Milan, with his form having been a bit up and down and Milan having a poor domestic season; they are currently 13th in Serie A. The former Manchester City striker has been labelled as a bit of a bad-boy everywhere he has played and all eyes will be on the San Siro to see if they let him leave. With the World Cup fast approaching, Balotelli will be hoping to show that he is still one of the best players in Europe to ensure his place as Italy’s number one striker. Rumors are now surfacing that the Rossoneri may lose their star striker, with Chelsea reportedly showing interest in a player that has had prior problems with Blues boss Jose Mourinho.
The pair fell out numerous times when Balotelli was playing for Mourinho at Inter Milan, which subsequently led to Balotelli’s move to Manchester City. His eccentric style and countless off-the-ball and off-field incidents whilst in England made him a favorite of every neutral. His unpredictable nature made him exciting to watch and he has retained that in his game.
A move back to the Premier League - a year after he joined Milan on deadline day in January 2013 - could be the lift he needs, and thrusting him back into the limelight in England would surely enhance his game. He is a player that thrives in the pressure-cooker environment of the Premier League, and with Chelsea needing guaranteed goals, it could be a match made in heaven. But it isn’t just Chelsea that have been linked with the forward. PSG have been linked - as they are with every top player - and the interest would make sense with the mega rich Ligue 1 side reportedly having a bid turned down by Man City before he joined Milan.
Balotelli reportedly joined Milan for a fee in the region of €20million and Milan would do well to turn that sum down if he started to make it clear that he wanted out. A Balotelli move - if he wants one - would be a success for all parties. He would get his move, Milan would get a decent sum of money and - on footballing qualities alone - whoever signed him would have made a good signing.
It would certainly capture all the headlines - something that Balotelli does naturally. And all eyes will be on him until midnight on January 31st to see if he will be gracing a new shirt. Despite his agent denying that Balotelli wants to leave, there is often no smoke without fire, and a player like Balotelli always wants more. A player that could always be one step away from brilliance or embarrassment, Mario Balotelli could be gracing the Premier League soon again, and that is an exciting prospect.
Written by Darren Ash
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