It’s fair to say that give or take a couple of exceptions, Arsene Wenger’s forages into the transfer market to find top quality strikers have left a lot to be desired in recent times.
By and large the Frenchman has been unable to replace the goals that Robin van Persie provided before his controversial switch to Manchester United, and Olivier Giroud, as improved as he may have been during his second season at the Emirates Stadium, doesn’t look like ever being up to the task. Now more than ever Wenger needs to get it right with regards to landing a frontman who can continuously be relied upon to hit the back of the net; another No.10 or overpriced individual who won’t acclimatise to the Premier League quickly enough simply won’t do.
Having moulded an incredibly potent midfield over the past few seasons one would assume that Wenger is merely a world-class forward away from ensuring that his side are in genuine contention for major trophies. Though Mesut Ozil struggled in the latter stages of last season his purchase gave the Gunners the perfect link between their explosively creative midfield and their strikers, all they need now is someone who can finish the work the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere initiate.
Of course Wenger knows this. It’s no secret that he’s made the capture of a striker his top priority, and the departure of Nicklas Bendtner has given him no choice but to go forth and spend money. In fact the papers today claim that Arsenal have not only identified the man they deem most capable of firing them towards the Premier League title, they’ve also made a £25million bid for him. For those of you unaware of said offer, it involves a striker you’ll all be fairly familiar with; Mario Balotelli.
The ex-Manchester City man has unsurprisingly found it impossible to thrive amongst a tumultuous AC Milan backdrop, and new coach Filippo Inzaghi is believed to have given the prospect of his departure from the San Siro a firm thumbs up. Whilst that’s all well and good in terms of Wenger’s first-choice being made readily available, one has to ask himself if Balotelli would truly fit into the Arsenal fold.
Notorious for causing trouble, the 23-year-old is an extremely unpredictable element to be added to a squad Wenger has strived to achieve equilibrium with, and £25million is a hell of a lot to pay for a player who has proven time and time again that consistency is not yet a key part of his game. Though unquestionably talented when on song, Balotelli's adventure with City showed that he can become the weak link in a setup if not in the mood to play, and his temperament often means that any underlying issues will surface where they may otherwise be better off being left to simmer.
Then of course there’s the prospect of both he and Giroud fighting for the same place up front. It’s likely that Wenger will continue to deploy a lone striker next season, meaning that a scenario wherein his current forward and Balotelli are direct rivals for a position will be a reality. It stands to reason that neither will be willing to play second fiddle for long, and that in itself could cause the newcomer to become actively disillusioned.
If Wenger is seeking a striker to find him goals then there’s far safer bets than Balotelli. There’s a reason he’s never really been truly comfortable at any one club, and the notion that he is simply naive and raw can only be used as a defence for so long. There’s plenty worse on the market than the Italian, but there’s also a great deal better to be had if Arsenal look hard enough.