Should Arsenal Take A Risk On Balotelli?

Mario Balotelli

So Arsenal have been heavily linked with renowned footballing bad-boy Mario Balotelli, but should Arsene Wenger take the gamble or would he be better off looking elsewhere?

It’s a tough one.

Against England during the World Cup, ‘Super Mario’ proved he has gifts that can turn important games. One main complaint levelled at the ‘Gunners’ over the past few years has been their inability to beat their closest rivals in the league or get into the latter stages of the Champions League. Mario has a history of being there for the big games, scoring in derbies and international tournaments.

But the Italian superstar has that ability of blowing a fuse in important matches too. Managers such as Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini and Clarence Seedorf often looked on in disbelief as Mario created scenes that would disrupt a match or training session.

When things are going right at a club then people will dismiss Balotelli’s antics as a bit of fun, ‘It’s Mario just being Mario’. But when things start to go wrong; coaches, teammates, pundits and club’s hierarchy will come out and criticise the Palermo born star. Obviously there’s two ways to look at that; 1. Mario is aways a disruptive influence but people put up with it because the team are winning. 2. That Balotelli is a great scapegoat and the go to guy to blame everything on when things go wrong. Maybe its a bit of both.

Arsene Wenger will look at the players footballing ability and think he could be getting a bargain if the fee really is £23m. He is an all-round striker. He can head the ball, has some superb skills, can chase the ball down the channels, hold the it up, take direct set-pieces and can score inside and outside of the penalty area.

He might not be prolific but he’s certainly in a focal point for the team. Maybe at the right club, given the encouragement he might start getting twenty odd goals a season. His eighty-eight goals in two hundred and twenty-two club appearances isn’t bad especially if he’s still a bit raw and has room for improvement.

Unlike Wenger’s current main striker Oliver Giroud, Balo would offer more directness and pace in behind opposition defences. The problems with penalties at the Emirates would also be improved should Arsenal sign Mario.

His discipline on the field isn’t too hot. He was sent-off on four occasions while at Manchester City and one of those was against Arsenal in an important fixture. He’s also been banned for off the ball incidents including infamously stamping on Scott Parker.

In terms of just football, the positives outweigh the negatives in signing the young Italian.


But there is so much more baggage that comes with Signor Balotelli.

Lets look at that proposed £23m fee again. Arsenal would be Mario’s fourth club in six seasons. The fee has never dramatically changed; he joined Man City from Inter in a deal worth around £18m and then he left for AC Milan in a £17m plus add-ons deal. Surely a player with his ability would expect to command a bigger transfer fee?

The problem is that Mario Balotelli is attracted to trouble and vice versa. There are so many stories; how he broke into a jail in Italy just so he could see it, handed out cash to strangers in the street, told police offers ’cause I am rich’ when the asked why he had thousands of pounds in his car, set off fireworks in his bathroom and so much more. Now some of these tales are myths rather than fact but some of them are true and they’re still astonishing!

Just think of the troubles he could get into in a city like London.

His childlike approach to training angers those around him. He has twice managed to get lost in a training bib and has been involved in numerous training ground scraps.

Wenger would need to assess Balotelli’s personality and decide if he can tame the striker or at least calm him down for the most important times during a season. The French manager would also have to question whether or not Mario Balotelli would disrupt the Arsenal dressing-room. The harmony of the squad has always been paramount to Wenger and Balo would certainly be a volatile member that could bring the club morale down with his irritating antics.

I think Milan would be more than happy to offload ‘Super Mario’ even though he has an impressive scoring record of thirty goals in fifty-four appearances for the San Siro club. Arsenal’s new shirt manufactures Puma would love the idea of marrying their biggest star and their biggest side. But that sort of stuff won’t sway Monsieur Wenger.

But see with all of these negatives to the deal, I can’t help but think that veteran boss Arsene Wenger should bite the bullet and gamble on Balotelli. Bring him to London, love him and make him Arsenal’s Eric Cantona.

Yes he has to be treated differently and yes there’ll be unwanted sideshows that will come with him. But he has the talent to be one of the world’s best and maybe, just maybe Wenger can get the best out of him and the superstar can inspire the Gunners to a league title.

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