AC Milan want Jackson Martinez to replace Mario Balotelli

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Jackson Martinez has emerged as one of the leading candidates to replace Liverpool-bound Mario Balotelli at AC Milan.

Speculation released earlier on Friday claimed that the Reds had agreed a £16m price for controversial Italian international Balotelli, despite manager Brendan Rodgers' having previously rejected claims that his flattering appraisal of the striker meant that he would be moving to Anfield this summer.

With that deal progressing at a rapid speed, reports from the continent cited by The Daily Express suggest that Milan could beat Premier League trio Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to the capture of Martinez as Balotelli's replacement, with the club already said to have made an initial loan offer for Porto's £24 million-rated marksman with a view to completing a permanent deal.

Martinez reputation

Martinez has developed a reputation as one of European football's top forwards over recent seasons, with the Colombian international - who moved to Estadio do Dragao from Chiapas in 2012 -  boasting a truly incredible record of 60 goals in just 61 games in the Primeira Liga.

He opened his account for the new season in typical fashion on Saturday, notching in the 94th minute of the Dragons' 2-0  homewin over Maritimo.

New AC Milan boss Filippo Inzaghi should certainly know a thing or two about top strikers. The Italian - who succeeded fellow Milan favourite Clarence Seedorf in the San Siro dugout back in June - was prolific during his playing days in Serie A and presumably sees Martinez as an ideal fit for a squad who drastically underperformed last year.

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No Premier League move?

Milan's move for Martinez would appear to threaten the chances of the 27-year-old flaunting his wares in the Premier League next season.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been credited with an interest in his services, although it could certainly be argued that the former are not currently in need of anymore new strikers with Wayne Rooney and Louis van Gaal favourite Robin van Persie both at Old Trafford as well as the likes of Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck.

Chelsea have drastically altered their striking unit during the current transfer window, with Diego Costa and Didier Drogba arriving in West London at the expense of Samuel Eto'o, Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku.

Jose Mourinho - whose Blues side romped to an impressive 3-1 win over newly-promoted Burnley at Turf Moor on Monday - appeared to be finished in the transfer market following the return of Drogba, although recent rumours linking the club with AS Roma frontman Mattia Destro would seem to hint that they are still in the market for another forward - possibly to replace the disappointing Fernando Torres.

Arsenal, meanwhile, were believed to be in hot pursuit of a new striker to provide support and crucial competition for French duo Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo, although it remains to be seen if that is still the case with new arrival Alexis Sanchez capable of operating through the middle.

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