Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is adamant that Gunners fans should pay no attention to persistent speculation which insist he's held talks over a £27m move for the AC Milan striker, branding the rumours as nothing more than "pure invention".
Wenger is definitely in the market for a new striker this summer to ease the burden on Olivier Giroud, who managed to score 22 goals last season but definitely lacked support in crucial matches.
That search has led to reports across that Wenger met Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola in Brazil last weekend, with the Gunners boss in South America to work as a pundit for beIN Sports.
Arsenal fans were understandably excited to hear that negotiations to sign the fearsome forward they craved, but while analysing Italy's clash with Uruguay last night for the American network Wenger took the chance to pour cold water over that swirling rumour mill.
Matteo Bonetti, a beIN Sports producer, relayed Wenger's views on the speculation via Twitter last night, sharing: "Arsene Wenger says on our beIN Sports WC show that Mario Balotelli to Arsenal is pure invention. Absolutely no truth behind any of it."
Mario goes missing
Wenger was commenting after watching Balotelli produce a rather insipid display in Italy's crunch World Cup showdown with Uruguay, a match which saw the Azzurri's main man substituted after just 45 minutes following a frustrating half where his only contribution of note was to berate the referee after being yellow card for a high challenge.
Ruud Gullit was also working for beIN Sports last night and the former Milan midfield marvel was also pretty scathing in his assessment of Balotelli's efforts, branding the controversial character "unmanageable" and also insisting that he won't work for the team towards a common goal.
Wenger's attention lies elsewhere
AC Milan are definitely considering Balotelli's sale to free up funds urgently needed to improve a Rossonerri side which languished in mid-table last season, but it seems that Napoli rather than Arsenal are now in the driving seat to pursue that deal.
Wenger instead looks more likely to pursue either Bayern Munich marksman Mario Mandzukic and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema, who have both made their mark at the World Cup already this summer.
The coy professor
Arsenal fans will hope that Wenger is merely maintaining a front and will pursue his top targets more aggressively once the World Cup concludes, with memories of his "nice surprise" comment just hours before confirming a £42.4m move for Mesut Ozil helping to support that view.
Wenger has to be taken at his word though and has attempted to once and for all silence speculation that talks are ongoing to bring Balotelli back to the Premier League, although until Arsenal finally start spending their much-discussed £100m transfer warchest that looks wishful thinking to say the least.
What do you think Arsenal fans, is Balotelli worth the trouble, or should Wenger's priorities lie elsewhere? Have your say in the comment box below!
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