Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Arsene Wenger plays down Balotelli talk; Zenit sign Ezequiel Garay from Benfica

Arsenal F.C. manager Arsene Wenger has rubbished reports linking the club with a summer swoop for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

Arsenal F.C. manager Arsene Wenger has rubbished reports linking the club with a summer swoop for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli.

Wenger is keen to bring in strike reinforcements to lessen the workload for the Gunners’ No. 1 front-man Olivier Giroud and reports have suggested Balotelli is a top transfer target for the North Londoners.

The Italy international, 23, had a less-than-stellar World Cup with the Azzurri after a nightmare 2013/14 with the Rossoneri.

Balotelli tallied 14 goals and six assists in 30 Italian Serie A appearances for Milan last term but the club finished in 8th-place in Italy’s top-flight and, as a result, will not be playing European football next season.

It is believed the 23-year-old ace will seek pastures new at club in the UEFA Champions League and an Arsenal switch seems to make sense.

However, Wenger has moved to play down rumours linking the Gunners with a big-money move for Balotelli.

“We cannot believe absolutely everything that is on the internet or in the papers,” Wenger told beIN Sport.

“Sometimes it is created by agents or by press who need news. But in this case, it’s not true.”

Should Arsenal splash the cash for Balotelli this summer?

Zenit sign Ezequiel Garay from Benfica

Russian Premier League side Zenit St Petersburg have agreed a deal to sign Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay from S.L. Benfica for an undisclosed fee, according to the club’s official website.

Garay, who has been linked with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Monaco in recent times, will officially join Zenit on 1 July, having agreed a five-year deal with the Russian giants.

“Zenit and Benfica have agreed the move of the Argentina defender to the white and blue,” revealed a statement on Zenit’s website.

“His contract is for five years from July 1. The player will join the club after the World Cup.”

The former Real Madrid centre-back, 27, thanked Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira and manager Jorge Jesus for their support over the past three seasons.

 “I want to thank everyone who supported me in these three magnificent years I spent at Benfica. I want to especially thank the president,  who believed and bet on me, and thank the manager, who made me improve and reach a level that makes me very proud,” Garay said.

“This is the moment, I couldn’t wait for any longer, but I’ll take with me in my heart all the unforgettable moments I lived in Portugal. Thanks.”

Garay bagged eight goals in 49 appearances in all competitions for the UEFA Europa League runners-up last season.


Shawn Etemadi



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