Rumors have begun to swirl that Arsenal has made a bid to AC Milan for Mario Balotelli that would ensure his return to the English Premier League after leaving Manchester City in 2013.
Balotelli, the oft-criticized Italian striker, still possesses a great deal of quality despite his baffling inconsistency and the occasional flare up, both on and off the pitch.
Arsenal seems to be a bit of an odd fit for Balotelli as manager Arsene Wenger has typically not focused on players with as many question marks as Balotelli has. But he could absolutely help the Gunners in their quest for a league title, which has eluded them for more than a decade.
The Gunners are a bit thin at the striker position and Olivier Giroud, while having a very solid campaign last year, is prone to stretches of inconsistency as well. Adding depth at this position is something Wenger desperately needs to address, but the question is whether Balotelli is the right player to fill that void.
His attitude and effort have been in question for years, sometimes to an unfair degree, but for all his physical talent, Balotelli should have progressed much further than he has so far.
While there are some negative aspects to Balotelli and his game, he is still only 23 years old. The lofty expectations of him at such a young age have certainly not helped, but there is still a world of potential to work with, and Wenger seems to realize that. When Balotelli is on his top game, he is very difficult to defend, as he is very skilled on the ball as well as in the air.
During his stint in the English Premier League, Balotelli was able to produce some brilliant moments for Manchester City. If Wenger can harness Balotelli’s enigmatic behavior and get him to focus on using his physical gifts as consistently as possible, no simple task I might add, then the Gunners may be a true threat to win the league next season.
Arsenal has some excellent technical players in the midfield who could provide Balotelli with the service necessary to make him a serious goal-scoring threat. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain use their pace to get to the end line and cross balls into the box while Mesut Özil and Tomáš Rosický are capable of playing through balls in the middle of the pitch for him to run on to as well.
Balotelli is well-known for his “Why Always Me?” shirt, but why can’t it be him to help take the Gunners to that next level? It’s a risk for sure, but the reward could pay off in a major way if Wenger is able to reign Balotelli in.