As they say, there is no smoke without fire.
Mario Balotelli may have joined AC Milan only in January 2013, but he has already been linked with a move away from the Italian club this summer.
Milan executive vice-president Barbara Berlusconi recently said that no one at the club is irreplaceable, and Balotelli’s agent, the famous (or infamous?) Mino Raiola, stated that the 23-year-old will leave if the club want him to leave (click here to read more).
And it now seems that Milan do indeed want to get rid of him, as club president Silvio Berlusconi was quoted as saying by ESPN this week: ‘’I was selling Balotelli to an English team for several millions, but, after this World Cup, who will buy him now? I was going to sell him to a top English club for €35 million (£28m), then the deal has stalled’.
Although Berlusconi did not name the cub he has held talks with, it is widely reported that the English team who want(ed) Balotelli are Arsenal.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is reportedly on the hunt for a striker in the summer transfer window, and the former Manchester City man is believed to be on his list.
But have Arsenal dodged a bullet because of Balotelli’s disappointing performance for Italy at the 2014 World Cup finals in Italy?
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The potential of Balotelli cannot be disputed, but more often than not, he has failed to deliver. The former Inter Milan striker is well known for his off-pitch antics, but even if one were to ignore them, one just cannot shy away from the fact that his on-pitch displays have not been great either.
True, Balotelli played his role in City’s FA Cup and Premier League triumphs during his three-and-a-half years at the Etihad Stadium and was a key figure in Milan’s third-place finish in Serie A in 2012-13, but last season he underperformed (although he had injury problems) and has been inconsistent throughout his career.
Moreover, one has to ask why Milan chief Berlusconi was going to sell Balotelli in the first place. It was the former Italian Prime Minister who recruited the player from City amid much fanfare in January 2013 – the striker was his ‘marquee signing’.
But less than two years later, Berlusconi is ready to sell Balotelli. Has the 77-year-old realised that the striker is just not worth the hassle and that from a footballing perspective, he is just not good enough?
Maybe, and who can blame him if he thinks so? Balotelli burst onto the scene as a teenager at Inter and he is now 23 – his progress has simply not been enough.
Before Berlusconi signed Balotelli, he described him as a “bad apple”. He subsequently apologised, but perhaps he has now realised that he was right after all.