It looks as though English football could be welcoming back one of it’s more mercurial figures in the summer. Italian striker Mario Balotelli has been linked with a return to the UK, following quotes by his agent, Mino Raiola, as reported by ESPN.
Of course, he is well-known for his antics whilst at Manchester City and Liverpool. He made more headlines off the pitch than on it. His performances were often labelled as lazy and disinterested but Balotelli has resurrected his career over the past two seasons.
The Italian enigma took the strange career choice of heading to France, joining Ligue 1 side Nice in 2016.
The results have been clear. The 27-year-old has scored 39 goals in 58 games for the club including 22 this season. It is not just on the pitch things have improved. Balotelli has matured off the field and the headlines are now restricted to the pitch.
So should West Ham United take advantage of this situation?
As much as Balotelli has improved, it is unlikely one of the big clubs will risk his signature. After seeing the way Liverpool were burned after his signature, the 27-year-old is still off the grid.
West Ham, who will need to ensure Premier League safety first, would be the perfect location for Balotelli.
The Italian would see the chance to play at the London Stadium as a big opportunity, rather than a burden. Balotelli would also immediately become a cult sensation among West Ham fans. The Hammers need a new striker. Andy Carroll’s injury record has nearly rendered him redundant. Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic cannot go on carrying the torch forever.
The Austrian could also play a big factor. Like Balotelli, he was once a troubled star, who has turned his career around. The pair played together at Inter Milan, where they formed a special albeit mischievous relationship.
West Ham fans have taken to Arnautovic as one of their own. If Balotelli could arrive and have a similar impact, creating a strong link up with the Hammers hero then it would be an excellent move from the Hammers hierarchy.
West Ham fans need an eye-catching transfer this summer. Balotelli could be exactly that.
An attacking triumvirate of Arnautovic, Balotelli and Hernandez? That will excite any West Ham fan.