Arsene Wenger pulled Arsenal out of a deal for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli because the player performed poorly at the World Cup, claims Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri.
The Italian striker is on the verge of agreeing a £16 million deal with Liverpool where he will reportedly earn £160,000-a-week in wages. However, had the player performed better at the World Cup, he could well be an Arsenal player.
Pulled the plug
Balotelli was strongly linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium around about the same time Italy were underperforming in Brazil. Italy crashed out at the group stage after losing to Costa Rica and Uruguay; Balotelli was labelled as one of their biggest disappointments.
With Wenger working as a pundit in Brazil, he was able to see first hand the poor performances of the 24-year-old. It was enough for him to pull the plug on the deal.
Reports at the time claimed that Wenger had set up a meeting with Balotelli's agent in Brazil and was prepared to offer the striker a salary worth up to £150,000-a-week.
AC Milan were always keen to sell the striker and were hopeful of dragging £25 million out of the Gunners. However, after his dismal displays on the biggest stage of them all, his value plummeted and the deal collapsed.
Palmeri revealed the story on his well-followed Twitter account, saying: "For those asking, Arsenal's deal with Balotelli fell through cause [sic] after World Cup Wenger wasn't convinced of his reliability."
Wenger's reluctance to sign the unpredictable, controversial character has benefitted Liverpool who, as previously stated, are on the verge of completing a £16 million deal to take Balotelli to Anfield.
Although his wages are steep at £160,000-a-week, the transfer fee can certainly be considered something of a bargain. Although Balotelli has featured on the front page more than the back in his short career, he still possesses enough talent to be a world beater.
If he can finally focus on matter on the field instead of off of it, there is no telling how far Balotelli can go in his career.
With Arsenal fans pining for a new striker after two dismal attacking displays from the Gunners against Crystal Palace and Besiktas, Wenger could live to regret his decision in the near future.