£30m Arsenal target Balotelli not ‘irreplaceable’, claims AC Milan’s Berlusconi

Arsene Wenger

AC Milan’s executive vice-president Barbara Berlusconi says that Mario Balotelli is not ‘irreplaceable’.

Mario Balotelli is reportedly on Arsenal’s wish-list this summer. The Premier League giants are on the hunt for a quality striker to complement (or replace?) Olivier Giroud, and the Italy international is said to be on their radar.

A number of other well-known strikers such as Karim Benzema have been mentioned, but in recent days, the Balotelli-to-Arsenal rumours have gathered pace.

There have been reports that Gunners manager Arsene Wenger will meet with the 23-year-old’s agent, Mino Raiola, in Brazil, while Milan are said to have identified former Barcelona and Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o as his replacement.

Of course, all these are merely ‘reports’, but Barbara Berlusconi’s latest comments about Balotelli’s future have made it clear that the striker could be sold.

‘Balotelli is a great player and a real Italian talent, but nobody is irreplaceable’, Sky Sports quotes her as saying. ‘We’ll see what happens’.

Barbara is the daughter of Milan’s famous owner Silvio Berlusconi, who is a former Italian Prime Minister. She is probably better known as a former girlfriend of Brazil international striker Alexandre Pato (an ex-Milan player), but in recent years, she has gained more influence on the running of the club.

The 29-year-old is the joint-executive vice-president and CEO of Milan. She has been on the board of directors at the Rossoneri since 2011, and since then she has tried to made her opinions matter.

One of the notable changes Barbara has tried to bring is – as apparent to an outsider – is the decimation of the influence of Adriano Galliani, who has been serving as Milan’s executive vice-president and CEO since 1986.

The pair are said to have had differences in the past,and the club made a public announcement only last month that both Barbara and Galliani will be the joint-general managers. While the latter is well known for signing big-name players, the former wants more stability and is not keen on recruiting players whose client is Raiola, arguably the most famous (or infamous?) agent in the world and who has the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on his books.

Balotelli is also managed by Raiola, and given Barbara’s desire for Milan to have fewer dealings with him, her words could open the door for Arsenal, if indeed they do want to sign the Italian star.

The striker joined Milan from Manchester City in January 2013 and was key to them finishing in the top three of Serie A in 2012-13. However, last season, Balotelli’s form took a dip (although he did struggle with injuries on occasions) and Milan finished as low as eighth in the league table.

  SeasonGoalsGoal AssistAppsYC/RC
Manchester City 2012-13 1 0 14 2/0
AC Milan

2012-13

12 0 13 7/0
AC Milan 2013-14 14 6 30 9/1

Balotelli supported Milan as a boy and even during his time as an Inter Milan player, he was seen wearing a Rossoneri shirt. Leaving City for Milan was the best move he could have made, but things have not gone according to plan, and he has failed to find consistency and inspire his team.

And now Milan seem willing to sell Balotelli. The drama in the life of ‘Super Mario’ is set to have yet another twist.

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