Milan want to sell Balotelli to Arsenal to land £34m Gunners target

Mario Balotelli -  San Siro, Milan, Italy

AC Milan want to sell Mario Balotelli to fund a move for Jackson Martinez, according to reports in Italy.

Controversial striker Mario Balotelli has been linked to Arsenal all summer long, although Arsene Wenger remains unconvinced.

The Frenchman even insisted he did not need to chase a striker when interviewed at the weekend, which can be taken as a vote of confidence in versatile forward Alexis Sanchez, bought earlier this month.

Yet AC Milan are reportedly crossing their fingers that the Gunners return for the ex-Manchester City star, to fund a striker bid of their own.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport report the Serie A giants are eyeing Jackson Martinez of Porto, who himself has been linked with a switch to North London.

Milan president Adriano Galliani is a confirmed admirer, commenting a fortnight ago, "Jackson Martinez I like him, it would be a great dream."

Financially, the £34 million release clause in Martinez's Porto contract is beyond Milan, who do not have Champions League football on offer this season, but Balotelli is seen as the key to any deal.

Gazzetta write: "Milan has moved on the trail of (Alessio) Cerci, but must first decide what to do with Mario Balotelli. If Arsenal actually bid and if Mario went away, they could speak again to Jackson of course."

Martinez is currently a hot topic of conversation at Porto, after failing to return to the club in time for their official club presentation, but his agent has moved to play down any falling out, simply stating the striker needs to spend extra time in Colombia after the World Cup.

SEE ALSO: Jack Wilshere: I still look up to Liverpool star

The forward has also been linked to Serie A side Roma, but no club have pulled the trigger on a bid for the 27-year-old who has bagged 46 goals in 60 games in the Primeira Liga for Porto.

Arsene Wenger is widely reported to have reservations over Mario Balotelli, despite admiring his talent, and unless the Gunners do surprise everybody by moving for the Italian, Milan may have to figure out a different way to fund a switch for Jackson Martinez.

Who would you rather have in your team? Jackson Martinez or Mario Balotelli?

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch