Arsenal are set to receive backing from sponsor Puma in their quest to sign striker Mario Balotelli this summer, according to reports.
The Daily Express cite speculation in the Italian press when claiming that sportswear giant will help to bring the mercurial forward back to the Premier League in the transfer window.
Balotelli spent two-and-a-half years in England between 2010 and 2013, helping Manchester City win an FA Cup and Premier League title during an eventful spell at the Etihad Stadium.
He left for AC Milan in the January transfer window, but things haven’t gone according to plan at the San Siro since his return to Italy and now speculation suggests he’s on the Gunners’ radar.
Speculation in The Daily Mirror last month claimed Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was one of the managers alerted over the availability of the player at £30million, and now the most recent reports suggest the north London outfit might not have to pay that all themselves.
Whilst there is little doubt over ‘Super Mario’s’ ability, it is the off-field baggage that comes with the 23-year-old which is the biggest concern. During his time with the Citizens, the former Inter Milan starlet made as many headlines on the front pages of the papers as the back.
Setting off a firework in his house, turning up at schools, throwing darts at youth team players, breaking curfew and a number of red cards were a handful of his indiscretions whilst working under Roberto Mancini - a manager he would eventually fall out with beyond repair.
Whether Wenger will be able to control the youngster is up for debate, but the experienced Frenchman has a track record of getting the very best out of young players at the Emirates Stadium, and could look to repeat the trick with Balotelli.
If Puma - kit sponsors at Arsenal from next season - are willing to get involved in a potential deal, then this really could be a risk worth taking.
The Gunners are light of a striker, or maybe even two, and Balotelli has proved in the past that he has an eye for goal. A good World Cup for the Azzuri would only emphasise that point further.
But even if he fails to perform, the Arsenal boss should already know enough about the player, and he could either be a decent foil for Olivier Giroud or a lone striker option if that’s how Wenger wants to utilise him.
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