According to reports Mario Balotelli is a potential summer target for West Ham United.
Manuel Pellegrini has made Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gomez and Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic his prime targets.
But contingency plans have been made, including Balotelli.
‘Why always me’
Balotelli is a household name in English football. The hot-headed Italian is well-known for his tempestuous spells with Manchester City and Liverpool.
There is no questioning Balotelli’s ability when he is in the mood but his attitude makes him a risk.
The 28-year-old could become a free agent when his contract at Marseille expires this summer. He has scored eight goals in 14 games since forcing a summer move from Nice.
The speculation has divided opinion among Hammers fans.
Fans divided over reported Super Mario interest
Some feel he will upset the apple cart and is not worth the risk.
Others believe he is just the kind of maverick the Hammers need and feel he could thrive in East London.
Supporters can take some comfort then in the fact that footballing royalty Gianluigi Buffon – himself once linked with a move to West Ham – still rates the striker.
“Mario’s doing well at Marseille, he’s shown sincerity and maturity,” Buffon told E poi c’e Cattelan.
Legend Buffon gives Balo his backing
“He’s also great for the national team. It’s said that the French League is not that tough.
“Maybe it’s not too evolved tactically, but it’s at the top in terms of technique and physicality. PSG aside, teams like Lille and Lyon would finish top five in Serie A.”
Buffon’s comments carry a lot of weight given his standing in the game.
As a result West Ham fans who feel his goal record in France counts for little will be encouraged.
Balotelli being available on a free transfer could make him an attractive prospect for Pellegrini.
The Chilean has a base transfer budget of £30 million this summer.
But the Hammers boss will also be given any money raised from player sales.