Door open for Balotelli exit
Arsenal may be the team to benefit from Italy's early exit from the World Cup with under-fire Mario Balotelli prepared to consider a move away from AC Milan, according to his agent.
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While AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has defended the 23-year-old striker for his performances in Brazil, another club vice-president Barbara Berlusconi hinted at the possibility of a Balotelli transfer this summer by saying he is "replaceable".
Balotelli, who still has four years left on his contract with the Rossoneri, has been linked with a return to the Premier League with Arsenal reportedly keen to acquire his services.
"Mario is sad, desperate," Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Only Galliani has defended him while the FIGC (Italian football federation) remains absolutely silent.
"I appreciate Galliani's comments but now I want to respond to Barbara Berlusconi.
"If for her Mario is replaceable, she should set up a meeting in the club's headquarters and we will find a solution, just as I am used to doing.
"I remember that Mario had other important offers. "He (Balotelli) is at Milan because of his heart - her (Berlusconi), I don't know."
A lot of disappointed Italian fans have vented their frustrations at Balotelli, who scored just one goal in three appearances in Brazil.
"It's disgraceful to point the finger at Balotelli," Raiola said. "This is the mirror of a country whose football is dead.
"But did anyone really think Italy would win the World Cup?
"I am not surprised by Italy's failure. In Europe our clubs no longer win so how could the national team perform a miracle?"
Raiola also criticised the defensive-minded tactics of Italian coach Cesare Prandelli.
Prandelli resigned from his post after the Azzurri's 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Tuesday, a loss that saw the Italians eliminated in the group stages for a second straight World Cup.
"I don't judge people and I don't know Prandelli," Raiola said.
"But his tactical plan was a losing one. How can you win playing just with one striker on the pitch?
"Even Costa Rica played with three strikers."
Balotelli has scored 30 goals in 54 matches for Milan since his move from Manchester City in January 2013.
Milan will not compete in Europe next season after finishing a disappointing eighth in Serie A in the 2013-14 campaign.