Arsenal are linked with a £25 million move for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli, currently on international duty with Italy at the World Cup in Brazil where Colombian international Jackson Martinez will be hoping to impress after another superb season with FC Porto.
The 27-year-old reportedly has a £38 million release clause with the Portuguese giants but he could be well worth the fee judging by his 60 goals in 91 appearances since he signed for the club in 2012.
Both he and 23-year-old former Manchester City striker Balotelli have quality and experience – the younger of the two has both Premier League and Champions League experience, the latter of which Martinez has with Porto as well as Europa League experience.
Martinez scored 20 goals in 30 appearances last term in the Primeira Liga whilst Balotelli notched up 14 goals and 6 assists across 30 appearances for AC Milan in Serie A. Balotelli averaged 5.1 shots per game to Martinez’ 4.3 but the Colombian achieved a slightly higher pass completion rate of 73.4% to Balotelli’s 72.5%.
In terms of efficiency in front of goal, Balotelli averaged a goal every 164 minutes which is some distance behind Martinez’ goal every 130 minutes for Porto. However, Balotelli achieved a higher finishing accuracy rate with 49% of his shots hitting the target to 31% of Martinez’.
Martinez won 51.1% of his aerial duels to Balotelli’s 40.3%, but the Italian was far more comfortable with the ball at his feet – Balotelli completed 1.9 dribbles per game on average to Martinez’ 0.7, was disposed 2.1 times per game to Martinez’ 2.3 on average and won free kicks for his team 3.4 times per game to Martinez’ 2.5 times per game with fouls awarded in his favour.
Overall, Balotelli performed in a league slightly more competitive than the Primeira Liga in Portugal and whilst Martinez has been nothing short of sensational in that capacity for Porto, he has not matched that in the Champions League, in which Balotelli has shown form fairly consistent with his form in Serie A.
Balotelli is four years younger, with greater experience at the very top level of competition in the Premier League and Champions League and he is much cheaper than Jackson Martinez, given that Porto are expected to hold out for a suitor to meet his release clause.
Pound for pound, Balotelli is probably (on paper at least) the wiser option for Arsenal but, of course, that doesn’t take into account the personalities of the two players, which, especially in Mario Balotelli’s case, could be a decisive factor.