Legend urges Milan: Sign Arsenal target, not Balotelli replacement

With Mario Balotelli set to join Liverpool, Milan legend Giovanni Lodetti has urged the club to turn away from Jackson Martinez and towards Sami Khedira.

Just over 18 months after making a triumphant return to Italy in January 2013, Mario Balotelli is back on course for English shores to sign with Liverpool.

After 31 goals in 58 total appearances for the club he supported as a boy, the mercurial marksman has been cashed in on for €20 million - leaving the Rossoneri with a pot to spend.

In the previously heady days of Silvio Berlusconi’s reign at Milan, such a financial infusion would almost have been seen as petty cash. But now, gone are the days of heavy spending at San Siro.

It’s for that reason that Balotelli’s sale is about more than just moving on a player. Milan need money to help rebuild an ailing squad, having evolved into Bosman connoisseurs over the past few years from a once-wealthy blockbuster transfer factory.

Adriano Galliani and company have spent much of this summer watching as lucrative targets have remained out of their grasp. Yet with Balotelli on the way out, there’s now a small window for Milan to invest before deadline day hits.

Porto’s Jackson Martinez has emerged as the Rossoneri’s top target. The striker not only could replace Balotelli, but would serve as the big-name signing fans crave in a time of austerity.

However, Diavolo legend Giovanni Lodetti isn’t on board. Asked about the possibility of signing Martinez, the 72-year-old pointed to Milan’s troubled midfield - and Arsenal target Sami Khedira.

He told Tuttomercatoweb: ‘Numerically something is needed up front, but I think more than anything else Milan need to find a quality midfielder able to bring pace and technique behind first line of attackers.'

‘If I had to think of a name, given the circumstances, I would say Khedira.’

With a contract that expires next summer, Real Madrid are thought to be keen to show the German the door this summer, partly in a bid also to get in line with FFP restrictions.

The latest reports have suggested the European champions are even willing to offer a discount to see him off. Though beyond this, the Spanish press believe Khedira already has a deal in place with Arsenal.

The Gunners have been heavily linked with a move for his services throughout the summer. And if they already have mobilised for Khedira, Lodetti - and Milan - may well already be out of luck.

Milan’s midfield desperately lacks a player the class of Khedira, and he would certainly be a boon Pippo Inzaghi’s side’s cause.

But with eyes for Martinez and Arsenal’s interest in him, Lodetti’s wish for the German has the highest probable chance of falling on deaf ears.

Milan at last have their moment to spend in the waning days of the transfer window and with it decisions to make. Martinez looks the most likely arrival - and turning away from him would take a massive change of heart at Milanello.

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