For a number of weeks now, the unlikely story of Arsenal pursuing Nilan’s Mario Balotelli. Although seemingly outlandish at first, the rumours were given traction when Puma signed a mega-bucks deal on kit sponsorship with the Gunners. As Balotelli is also sponsored by the German firm, there were inevitable links made about the company part funding what has been reported as a £40million pursit of the striker.
Reports emerging from Italy, as reported in the British press this morning, however sugest that Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham may also have an interest in the maverick Italian international and have the card of Erik Lamela to play in the game. The Argentine striker or wide man has been an unmitigated flop since his £30million capture from Roma as part of the now defunct Andre Villas-Boas project. Envisaged as the dynamic raiding winger to replace the departed Gareth Bale, the Lamela has fallen well short of them ark and his falure to settle in London has merely compounded the issue. A return to Italy is now on the cards as it would suit both player and club.
Quoted in this morning’s Daily Express, Tottenham manager, Tim Sherwood said “It is difficult to adapt to a different country, a different league and a different language as well but when you are suffering up these niggles, and something more than minor at the moment, it is disappointing for the lad. We signed him for the long-term and we are sure that in the end he will come good for Tottenham and be a crowd favourite here. We are all big fans of him when we see him in training, it is difficult to adjust to a different style of play and a different language, I’m sure Erik will pick it up and by the time he is fit he will be fluent!” The time for this may now have passed however, and if the club can cut their losses and trade Lamela in for an upgrade to Balotelli, there’s clearly an advantage there.
The key to the question appears to be – always assuming Balotelli is interested in the move – whether Milan would perceive the straight cash from Arsenal, or the cash plus Lamela from Spurs as the better deal. It’s likely to be the case that if Spurs really want to drive through deal and thwart their rivals their value of Lamela may need to take a bit of a nosedive.
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