Chelsea, Arsenal target: Balotelli is one of the world's best

Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa has praised AC Milan's Mario Balotelli ahead of the two clubs meeting in the Champions League this week

Super Mario has been enjoying his time back in Italy and certainly seems to have settled at the club. He has been Milan's star performer this season, and without him they would be struggling. They face Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League knowing that realistically winning the competition is their only chance of qualifying for it again next season.

Milan are in 10th place in Serie A, and 18 points adrift of Napoli in the last Champions League qualification spot. Balotelli has scored 12 goals in 24 games so far this season and is in superb form as shown by his cracking goal in the recent 1-0 win over Bologna which looked effortless.

Another striker in form this season; Diego Costa, with 25 goals so far for Atletico Madrid, has claimed that Mario is one of the best in the world. "There is no doubt about the quality of Balotelli. He's a great striker, one of the world's best players. Our defenders know this - they have been warned about him and will do anything to stop him from scoring."

Both Costa and Balotelli have found themselves linked with moves to the Premier League in recent weeks. Speculation regarding Costa has been ongoing since last summer but there is now talk of a swap deal between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid involving Thibaut Courtois as well.

I doubt Balotelli will be that bothered by Costa's comments. He will regard himself as one of the world's best anyway I'm sure and won't pay much attention to the media these days due to his experiences in England. But could he return in the future?

Reports suggest that Arsene Wenger is pondering a summer move for the Italian striker. The speculation has mounted since Arsenal struck a deal with Puma to be their kit manufacturers from next season. Apparently Puma would be willing to partly fund a deal to bring Balotelli, a Puma endorsee to the club. Wenger will be keen to add a world-class striker to his ranks and it is clearly what he needs. Mario himself could be open to the move due to Milan's poor form and racist abuse he has received in Italy.

image: © Dan Heap

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