With Italy’s World Cup exit and AC Milan Vice President Barbara Berlusconi’s assertion that no player is “irreplaceable”, the wait for Mario Balotelli’s much-anticipated transfer to Arsenal seemed to be drawing to a close.
Except, as it turns out, Arsene Wenger was never interested in Balotelli.
When asked about the striker, the Arsenal manager described the story as “pure invention”, saying “we cannot believe absolutely everything that is on the internet or in the papers.”
With these comments, Wenger could obviously be hiding his genuine interest from the media. But by the same token, the manager has not publicly expressed any sentiment to fuel the speculation.
Regardless, the need for a new striker at the Emirates remains. And with the World Cup ongoing, there is plenty of attacking talent on show for Wenger to consider.
Balotelli may never have been a target. But in any case, here are SIX World Cup alternatives to the Italian for Arsenal to consider.
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A striker that has been repeatedly linked with the Gunners since last summer, talk of a move for Benzema has gone strangely quiet in the last month. However, with three goals and two assists for France so far, the Real Madrid star has issued a timely reminder of his talents.
If this late effort against Switzerland hadn’t been bizarrely cancelled out by the referee, Benzema would be level with Lionel Messi and Neymar in the race for the Golden Boot right now.
With talks over a contract extension at Madrid stalling, there seems to be an opportunity for Wenger to make a move. A huge fee would be needed but the Frenchman could be the elite striker Arsenal need to bolster their challenge for honours.
With the arrival of Robert Lewandowski, Mandzukic’s future at Bayern Munich has been under scrutiny for some time. It is hard to envisage a scenario where both can be content at the Allianz Arena next season.
Mandzukic’s recent declaration that he intends to leave the German champions has put a number of clubs on alert. Although the 28 year old is certainly a top-class striker, there are some concerns that he is too similar a player to Olivier Giroud for any potential partnership to succeed.
Nevertheless, he is an alternative that Wenger should certainly consider this summer.
Another name that has been touted in connection with Arsenal, Martinez has only started once for Colombia so far. But with two goals in the 4-1 victory over Japan, it would be safe to say that the 27 year old has staked a strong claim to retain his spot for Saturday’s clash with Uruguay.
The striker turned nicely and finished with aplomb for his second goal in Colombia’s final group fixture.
Having constantly found the net in his spell with Porto so far, Martinez had undoubtedly attracted the attention of a number of Europe’s leading sides. But with a release clause of £33 million and indications that the Portuguese side will accept nothing less, there are doubts over whether he is the best option for Wenger this summer.
With Benzema currently firing on all cylinders for France, Remy hasn’t seen much game time in Brazil so far. But the 27 year old remains a player in demand and despite QPR’s return to the top flight, the Frenchman isn’t expected to feature in Harry Redknapp’s plans for next season.
Having racked up fourteen strikes in a blunt Newcastle side, Remy is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League and probably the most affordable alternative on this list. Capable of playing anywhere across the front three, Wenger could view the 27 year old as a smart investment for next season.
Despite being introduced to the Premier League in a struggling Swansea City side, Bony still managed to impress in his debut campaign in England. The 25 year old managed to net 16 league goals and started ahead of Didier Drogba for the Ivory Coast’s opening two fixtures in Brazil.
With the Swans signing of Bafetimbi Gomis, there is the feeling that Bony is almost a certainty to leave this summer. Although he would certainly deliver goals, there is a debate as to whether the Ivorian represents an upgrade on Giroud and it is difficult envisage the pair working in tandem.
Many people’s tip for the Golden Boot, Lukaku has endured an abysmal start to the World Cup. The 21 year old’s place in Marc Wilmot’s side is reportedly coming under serious threat from rising star Divock Origi.
Despite this, Mourinho’s apparent willingness to sell Lukaku means Wenger should seriously consider making a move. The Belgian seems certain to develop into one of European football’s leading strikers and would most likely serve as a replacement to Giroud rather than a partner.
Judging by this effort though, Wenger shouldn’t sign him on the strength of the 21 year old’s rapping skills.