Rumors are constantly circulating and they mean absolutely nothing until something actually happens, but one rumor for Arsenal continues to hang around and pick up steam.
It’s common knowledge that Arsenal are looking for help of the striker variety. Olivier Giroud is the only viable option the team has, and just like any other player, he’s not always on top of his game. Names have been tossed around like Karim Benzema, Alvaro Morata and the most interesting option, Mario Balotelli.
No one can deny Balotelli’s raw skill. He scored 30 goals in just 54 appearances for AC Milan. Plus, Arsene Wenger has been a huge fan of the Italian striker since 2009. But it’s what Balotelli is off the pitch that has any potential suitor feeling a bit squeamish about signing him.
Balotelli has a history of being a tad narcissistic and uncooperative, particularly when things don’t go his way. Anyone with a waterfall in front of his mansion displaying his token “MP45” tag, as well as having at one point commissioned a 16-foot bronze statue of himself, clearly has a bit of an ego to contend with.
Arsenal are a team that is built around teamwork, not the individual. Most teams have one guy that you can point to who pretty much ‘runs’ the team. Manchester United have Wayne Rooney, Real Madrid have Cristiano Ronaldo and most of the other big clubs have that same kind of person. Arsenal just don’t.
No doubt Balotelli would have it in mind to become that person. It just wouldn’t work, plain and simple; that’s not how Arsenal play.
What it all comes down to is whether or not Wenger can turn Balotelli into a team player and cut out all the extracurricular activities. That’s no easy task, but if anyone can do it, Wenger can. That doesn’t mean it’s a surefire success though. It’s an incredibly high risk signing if it does happen, but the reward is equally high.
As mentioned, Balotelli is one of the best strikers in the world when things go his way. At only 23 years of age, he still has growing to do, and hopefully some maturing to do as well. If Arsenal go ahead and reach out for Balotelli, it’s no absolute that it will pan out, so it’s important to temper expectations.
So should they go after him?
I don’t think so. Balotelli has shown very little signs of maturing. The risk is not worth the cost. The great thing about soccer is that there are so many other options throughout the world. Benzema is still available and putting him next to Giroud would breed chemistry.
In short, Balotelli would not fit into the Arsenal style, whether Wenger thinks he can corral him or not. Arsenal need a guarantee at striker, and the egotistical super Mario is far from that.