When Manchester City sold Mario Balotelli to AC Milan towards the end of Mancini's managerial tenure at Manchester City, it seemed highly unlikely that the Premier League would see him again. Atletico Madrid's comprehensive elimination of Milan however from the Champions' League round of sixteen has caused a reassessment of the club's financial situation. Clarence Seedorf's squad may need to be pared down a little to balance the books and with a number of clubs apparently on the lookout for a striker, there's a chance that we could be seeing a return of Mario, with a trio of London clubs linked with a move this summer.
When he was managing Inter Milan, Jose Mourinho declared that Balotelli was unmanageable. Normally, it could be argued that in the intervening few years, any young player will have matured and grown into his responsibilities as a highly paid footballer. That may not be the case with Balotelli however, and at 23 rumours of unrest in Italy suggest that any club securing his services will require to have man management skills par excellence. Despite repeated murmurings in the press therefore that Chelsea could be interested in signing the Italian, any such stories may probably best be read with a large spoonful of scepticism.
Another London club, still on the search for a striker is Arsenal. Thwarted during the summer in their pursuit of Liverpool's Luis Suarez, the record signing of Mesut Ozil may not have sated Arsene Wenger's new-found penchant for laying out a bit of the Gunner's lucre. Any Gunners' interest could even be heightened by reports in the weekend's press that Olivier Giroud has been talking to an agent. Now, there'll be lots of reasons why people talk, and most of them will have nothing to do with transfers - or possible transfers for that matter, but if Giroud is looking to move on, and given his recent personal issues, it could be the case, signing a top notch striker to replace him would be an essential.
The other possible London destination linked with Balotelli is Tottenham. The club is in a state of flux at the moment with the future of Tim Sherwood in doubt. Jermain Defoe has decamped to Toronto, meaning that aside from the young Harry Kane, the strike force comprises the Adebayor and Soldado. Whilst the Togo international has been instrumental in getting the Spurs bandwagon moving again, he has always been the sort of player that can have a great season followed by a mediocre one, and with the misfiring Soldado the only other option, Spurs may well be in need of an additional source of goals. A lot will be decided by whoever is managing the club when the season is done and dusted, but regardless of who is sitting in the manager's chair, the issue will need to be resolved, and Balotelli could be an answer.
With all of the noise and flashing lights that seem to follow Balotelli wherever he goes, it's easy to forget the key factor in his career. This player has the priceless asset of scoring goals that win matches. The 23 year old's ten goals in defence-orientated Serie A speaks of his ability, and who can forget his outstanding display in the European Championships when his two goals defeated Germany. Could he do the same for a Premier League club again? Time will tell.
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