Arsenal join race for Italian starlet

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Arsenal are one of a handful of clubs linked with a summer move for Italian striker Mario Balotelli.

The Inter Milan forward is the subject of fresh transfer speculation following his reaction to the 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the Champions League last night (Tuesday), and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is thought to be interested in bringing the 19-year-old to north London.

Balotelli angrily threw his shirt to the ground at the end of a classic clash at the San Siro, being constantly jeered by the fans after a misplaced pass and a shot that flew wide after coming off the bench on 75 minutes.

Italian website Sport Mediaset reports that Internazionale have agreed to allow the teenager to leave the club in the summer, with that news set to spark a bidding war for one of the rising stars in european football.

Nicknamed 'Super Mario', Balotelli moved to the Serie 'A' champions on loan in 2006. He made the permanent move from Lumezzane in 2007, and has gone on to make over 50 league appearances for the Italian giants.

However, Balotelli has struggled to hold down a first team place with the Nerazzurri since Jose Mourinho took over at the club. The pair have had a fractious relationship since the 'Special One' took over in 2008, although Mourinho has refused to freeze his young striker out despite his tempestuous outburst yesterday.

The Gunners are known admirers of Balotelli, and Wenger was thought to be interested in a move during this season's January transfer window.

A move never materialised, and now Manchester City and Chelsea are speculatively linked with a move for the teenager when the window re-opens at the start of June.

Wenger is well known for bringing the best out of young talent, and the Italian U21 international could flourish under the guidance of the Frenchman should the two parties agree a deal.

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