Wenger In Talks Over Super Mario
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has had talks with the agent of AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli over a summer move for the Italy international.
Mino Raiola, who represents Balotelli, was in London on Monday for a meeting with Wenger over a £25million move to the Emirates and further discussions are expected to take place between now and the end of the season.
There have been reports that the deal be underwritten by sportswear manufacturer Puma, who sponsor Balotelli and who will become Arsenal’s official kit suppliers from 1 July and the German company are apparently keen to get on board with any deal for Balotelli.
The transfer fee won’t be a problem for the cash-rich Gunners, who spent £42million of a reported £70million transfer kitty last summer. That’s without any cash granted to Wenger for new signings at the end of this season.
Balotelli was recently the subject of racist abuse in a Serie A match and is said to be keen to return to England after his spell with Manchester City. Chelsea are said to be lurking in the background. Jose Mourinho knows Balotelli well from the time the pair spent together at Inter Milan.
The deal will be welcomed by Milan. The Italian giants lie mid-table in Serie A and are unlikely to qualify for next season’s Champions League. A £25million fee will go some way to plugging the financial gap the club will suffer as a consequence.
Schalke Coach Prepares for Draxler Exit
Arsenal target Julian Draxler will be allowed to leave Schalke 04 this summer if the Gunners are able to meet his £37million release clause. Jens Keller, the coach of the Bundesliga outfit, admitted yesterday that his hands are tied with respect to the Germany international and that his club are already preparing for life without the talented 20-year-old.
“Clearly it is a bad situation if you do not know whether such an important player can still break away,” Keller told Sport Bild. “The hype around him was huge but he has learnt to deal with it.
Draxler was linked with bids from Arsenal last month, none of which met the 45.5million euro the German club are looking for before Draxler is allowed to leave. However, a summer move from the Gunners is expected and Keller says his club will be powerless.
“Because of the clause he can just go so I cannot plan around him because it is out of my hands.”
Draxler has reportedly told friends that he would prefer a move to Arsenal this summer. However, any bid short of the £37million is likely to scupper any hopes Arsenal have of the transfer going through.
The winger is set to return to action having missed the past nine weeks through injury.