In recent Arsenal transfer speculation, AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli, has been linked with a spectacular return to the Premier League. Arsenal have emerged as favourites to sign the out of favour Milan striker, and the following are 4 reasons why the deal would be a good one:
1) He is world class
Since joining AC Milan 18 months ago, Balotelli has found the net 30 times in 54 games for his club. A strike rate of more than a goal every 2 games, he isn’t prolific, but he is certainly proven. He isn’t just a front man though… He can be an asset in any area of the pitch, if his mentality is correct. If you check today’s football fixtures at William Hill you will see when Balotelli plays next to see for yourselves that he is more than just a finisher.
More than that, though, Balotelli is an influence the like of which Arsenal could benefit from. He is an international striker and a confident player at times, and a vital component to the team at others. So often, Balotelli can have a quiet game, but prove the one goal difference on the score sheet. So often Arsenal have been found wanting of that one goal difference.
2) He has Arsene Wenger’s admiration
The Gunners’ boss is a long-term fan of Balotelli’s. Before the Italian signed for Manchester City, Wenger had already outlined him as one to watch for the future, and seemed to indicate that he would want him in his side.
‘In particular, I am keeping an eye out for Balotelli, a player I like very much’ said Wenger, of the striker during his Inter Milan days. It is not only the case that Balotelli could be a good match for Arsenal football club, but he could also form a good relationship with their long-term manager.
History has told us that Balotelli is a player who needs to be loved, and he looks like he might receive that treatment with Wenger. There were various training ground bust-ups with Roberto Mancini at Manchester City, but perhaps the two were just unable to get along. With Wenger, things will be different.
3) He will add character to the Arsenal squad
The current Arsenal squad can sometimes lack the spark that had set it apart from other teams in the past. There is no longer the midfield fire that Patrick Vieira possessed; or the splash of colour that was Freddy Ljungberg; or the supreme class that Thierry Henry carried.
Balotelli’s introduction into the team would certainly spice up the team’s persona. They still play attacking football, but their whole image could become a lot more entertaining with the Italian in the side. For all the times that he frustrates, he seems to entertain in equal measure, as he looks to influence the team with more than just the goals he can provide.
4) The Giroud/Balotelli partnership
Finally, and most importantly for Arsenal, the partnership that Balotelli could strike up with Olivier Giroud, might just be one of the most effective in the Premier League. Last season, Giroud appeared to wane under the considerable pressure at times, but Balotelli’s introduction could take much of the focus away from him. With Balotelli to play alongside, Giroud will be expected only to provide the goals, and for as long as he keeps doing that, he will face less scrutiny.
The two look to be polar opposites of each other in terms of personality, and that might also help Arsenal. Whilst Balotelli struts across the pitch, receiving attention even when he doesn’t even necessarily want it, the more understated Giroud can go about his business a little more quietly, and hopefully effectively.
For Balotelli, having such a strike partner could really give the player a constructive focus. At Man City, he had to contend with the world-beating Sergio Aguero, and the equally controversial Carlos Tevez. Giroud will represent a new talent and a new competitor – but he could be one with which Balotelli can find a balance.