Arsenal have not made a bid for Mario Balotelli and no offer has been submitted for the fiery striker, according to his club AC Milan.
Arsene Wenger had been heavily linked with a possible move for the Italy international this summer, as the Arsenal boss looked to bolster his attacking ranks ahead of a pivotal season for their long-term future.
However, the Gunners interest has now been denied after the Rossoneri chief executive, Andriano Galliani, came out to publicly deny that there was any deal in place.
“We have not received any offer. At this time, there is nothing from Arsenal,” he is quoted as saying in The Sun.
In fact, Balotelli is expected to join up with his Milan teammates for their pre-season tour in the US next week once his post World Cup holidays are over. Speculation has been rife all summer with regards to his future, with a number of reports claiming the Serie A giants are keen to get him off the wage bill.
Whether Arsenal ever retained an interest in the 23-year-old is difficult to say, but the £30million capture of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona this summer has left them well stocked in the attacking department. Wenger said as much after the Gunners’ first pre-season friendly on Saturday against Boreham Wood.
The French tactician insisted the signing of the Chile international meant he did not need another striker. Sanchez joins Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell as possible forward options at Emirates Stadium – while there are numerous attacking midfielders in the squad.
Dodged a bullet
Arsenal fans should be relieved that a deal for Balotelli has not materialised, as he could have a destructive force on what appears to be a very harmonious squad last season. The former Manchester City man is as famous for his actions off the pitch as those on it and would have brought unnecessary attention.
He has caused controversy and disharmony at most of the teams he has played for in his short career, not to mention a liking for questionable social media antics.
Is there still hope for him?
However, it may be a bit unfair to claim that he would have had no chance of succeeding at Arsenal, as with age, usually comes maturity and he may have learned from his (numerous) mistakes. Wenger’s man management skills are supposed to be first class and he has managed to deal with one or two wild players in the past.
Such is Balotelli’s immense talent – Wenger once said he could be one of the best in the world – that there will always be a manager ready to take a risk on him, but this is a risk that the Gunners need to avoid. Perhaps in a season or two, with a couple more years under his belt, Balotelli could thrive at Arsenal, but right now the time is not right.