Arsenal sponsors set to help fund move for £40m Chelsea target

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Arsenal's new kit suppliers Puma will help the club fund a move to sign Mario Balotelli this summer, according to reports in Italy cited by The Metro.

The aforementioned reports suggest that amid rumours that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been dissuaded from a potential deal for the AC Milan striker, that Puma - who signed a five-year deal with Arsenal believed to be worth more than £30 million-per-year last month - are keen to help finance a deal for Balotelli - whom they also sponsor - and could be willing to offer more than £15 million to assist the pursuit.

23-year-old Balotelli - who is known as much for his off-field antics as he is for his footballing abilities - joined Serie A outfit AC Milan in January 2012 after calling time on a controversial three-year Premier League stint with Manchester City.

Although he collected a league winner's medal during that time, Balotelli had a fractious relationship with compatriot and former manager Roberto Mancini and it was hardly a surprise to see him eventually depart the Etihad Stadium.

Chelsea - who recorded a superb 1-0 victory over City away from home last night - were also linked with a potential switch for Balotelli during the recent transfer window, with Jose Mourinho evidently needing to bolster his squad at Stamford Bridge with the addition of a new striker given the inconsistent form displayed by the likes of Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o this season.

Speculation from the player's homeland yesterday, however, claimed that Arsenal could make a summer swoop for a man reportedly rated at approximately £40 million by AC Milan.

The somewhat surprising purchase of Mesut Ozil aside, Arsenal and Wenger have never appeared particularly keen to lavish such extravagant funds on new signings, but the apparent assistance from Puma may help to cushion that financial blow if indeed they were to make such a move.

However, one has to question if Balotelli is reliable and indeed mature enough to warrant such a hefty fee.

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Mario Balotelli
Premier League

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