Balotelli set for AC Milan stay, despite previous Arsenal links

Mario Balotelli Italy

Italy striker Mario Balotelli looks set to stay in the Italian capital as AC Milan start their pre-season with the striker who has been linked with Arsenal in recent weeks.

All the debate in June this year with regards to Arsenal was whether or not Mario Balotelli would be a suitable option for the Gunners who were over-reliant on France striker Olivier Giroud last term.

Whilst there was no doubt the Gunners required another forward this summer, the speculation linking former Manchester City striker Balotelli with a move to the Emirates raised an eyebrow or two.

Finally, manager Arsene Wenger came out to deny any interest in Balotelli and, co-incidentally, the rumours went away. Then Arsenal signed Chile forward Alexis Sanchez for £35 million from Barcelona and the Balotelli rumours were revealed as nothing more than a gossip-tinted smokescreen.

Now it seems Balotelli will remain at the San Siro with AC Milan with whom he has now commenced his pre-season training ahead of the new Serie A campaign and the 23-year-old has also been included in the club’s promotional campaign photos ahead of the new season.

"Mario will return with willingness on the 21st (of July) and will come with us to the United States," AC Milan coach Filippo Inzaghi insisted.

Whether or not Arsenal were ever interested in Mario Balotelli will likely remain unknown and the signing of Alexis Sanchez effectively wiped Balotelli off the map, the radar and off the minds of the Gunners’ fans.

Would he have fit it at the Emirates? Would he have matured and settled under Arsene Wenger? Would he have finally shaken off his ‘bad boy’ image and fulfilled his potential in an Arsenal shirt?

We shall likely never know. The fact remains that Arsenal will not be signing Mario Balotelli but who is more disappointed - Arsenal fans, his club, or the player himself - we are not privy to.

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