Arsenal are leading AS Monaco in the race to sign AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli after the Serie A giants put the Italy international up for sale. The Rossoneri are looking to receive a fee in the region of £20m-£25m for the 23-year-old former Manchester City star.
The Daily Star quote Italian sources as claiming Milan officials have reached the end of their tether with Balotelli, who was brought to the San Siro in January 2013 for fee of £19m. The Italian has scored goals regularly with the struggling Serie A outfit - 30 in 53 appearances over the course of one-and-a-half seasons - but his controversial antics and an apparent lack of effort have prompted the Rossoneri to move him on.
Chelsea and Manchester United have both been linked with Balotelli in recent months, but the Blues are lining up deals for Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa and Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic, while the Red Devils’ will stick with Robin van Persie as their main centre-forward following the arrival of Dutch coach Louis van Gaal.
Arsenal, then, are reportedly in pole position to sign the Italian ace, who netted 20 goals in 54 Premier League matches during his two-and-a-half year spell at the Etihad Stadium. But can Arsene Wenger tame Balotelli?
The Arsenal boss is desperate to secure the services of another top-class striker to ease the burden on Olivier Giroud, and Balotelli would undoubtedly be a useful option - provided he’s fully focused on the task in hand. Throughout his time in England, the former Inter Milan star regularly hit the front and back pages of Britain’s national newspapers due to his off-field antics.
Wenger has also been linked with a move for Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who the Frenchman will probably regard as a safer - albeit less obtainable - option.