Arsenal could be about to lose out on another summer transfer target after reports claiming Mario Balotelli could be used as bait in a deal to land Radamel Falcao.
Arsene Wenger has been a long term admirer of Balotelli and was considering him for a possible move to bolster his attacking line-up this summer, but he may see his chances of taking the Italy international to Emirates Stadium fade, according to the Daily Express. The report suggests that AC Milan are willing to let the excitable 23-year-old leave, but feel they could use him to land Falcao in return.
It claims the Colombian, whose attempts to recover from cruciate ligament damage in time for the World Cup failed, is not happy at AS Monaco and wants to reboot his career at one of Europe's more prestigious clubs. New Milan manager Filippo Inzaghi wants a blockbuster signing to mark his arrival in the hot seat and feels Falcao would be the perfect name to reignite the club.
Milan's financial troubles have seen them take a more conservative approach to spending in recent seasons, though this resulted in them only being able to finish eighth in Serie A last season. Falcao is on a huge salary at Monaco, who are bankrolled by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, so signing him straight up would probably not be possible.
Balotelli has been a relative success since he moved to Milan from Manchester City, scoring more frequently than any other player and he would be more in demand if it was based on talent alone. His very public love life is seen as a distraction and his erratic behaviour - on and off the pitch - make him something of a liability, which Arsenal do without.
Roberto Mancini long defended and tried to nurture the fiery young forward at Manchester City, but even he gave up in the end and accepted Balotelli had to leave for the sake of his squad, which resulted in the move to Milan. The Gunners have often talked about having a terrific team spirit and the introduction of a player so polarising could risk upsetting the balance.
Wenger needs another striker this summer and perhaps he feels that Balotelli being a little bit older could mean he is that little bit wiser and more prepared to handle the rigours of being under the press spotlight in the Premier League. There will always be temptation to sign a player with the immense talent and natural athleticism possessed by Balotelli, but his off-field antics make that a big risk.
Arsenal under Wenger have rarely had players with bad boy images in the vein of Balotelli and many would be a little surprised if he did decide to take him on. The French tactician may be a good mana manager, but such a crucial season for the Gunners mean a distraction like Mario is one they could probably do without.