Premier League - Paper Round: Balotelli coming back to England for £29.5m

Arsenal have been given the green light to sign Mario Balotelli, according to the papers...

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Premier League - Wenger rules out Balotelli signing
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Italy striker Mario Balotelli (Reuters)

Arsenal given green light to sign Balotelli: Arsenal have been told they can have Mario Balotelli for £29.5million after the World Cup, reports the Daily Express. The story indicates that Arsenal are ready to match the fee set by Italian giants AC Milan, who have lowered their asking price for the 23-year-old - though the report fails to mention what the original price was. Manager Arsene Wenger is ready to go ahead with the purchase, and will offer the former Manchester City star £180,000-per-week to lure him to the Emirates.

Paper Round’s view: While Balotelli is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League he remains a risky purchase – especially at near £30 million. Furthermore, £180,000-per-week in wages would surely break the Arsenal’s wage structure – with Mesut Ozil said to be their top earner on £140,000-per-week. There is surely more value in the market than Balotelli at £30 million. Karim Benzema could become available if Real Madrid firm up their interest in Luis Suarez, so expect Wenger to bide his time.

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And this is how the nation's papers reacted to the tenth day of the 2014 World Cup – with England still dominating.

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Henry Winter (Daily Telegraph): They think it’s all over. It is now. How those words haunt England. The national team’s latest failure, being the worst performance since they failed to qualify for USA 94, demands an apology from the FA, Roy Hodgson and the players to all those thousands of fans who loyally trooped to Brazil only to be royally let down. Rather than anger, the mood was more one of inevitable frustration at the team’s demise after only two games, their fate sealed by Costa Rica’s victory over Italy. The fans did not expect much, but they expected more than this; at least give them the inevitable pain of penalties. But this was humiliating, being turfed out of this wonderful party before they had hardly tasted their first caipirinha.

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Lee Clayton (Daily Mail): England, Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica: a trio of former world champion heavyweights and the little mob that gave us Paolo Wanchope. We thought Group D would be a three-team group. And so it turned out that way. We just never expected England to be the D-for-dead team, only eight days after the World Cup began. As wonderful, fearless Costa Rica showed England how they should have pressed Italy high up the pitch to make Andrea Pirlo and his mates look rushed and ordinary, Greg Dyke came stumbling forward from the posh seats. Mr Dyke, the erratic FA chairman, decided it should be the very day for him to declare his public support for his manager in what looks like a Sepp Blatter-esque display of disengaged buffoonery.

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Matt Dickinson (The Times): Roy Hodgson has been assured by the FA that he will continue as England manager until Euro 2016 despite a demoralising early exit from the World Cup. Hodgson said that he would not resign, and his employers will not force him down the plank. There is talk of a lack of alternatives, which is a pretty thin reason to keep a manager but reflects a certain reality. The FA could find a replacement to Hodgson but it would not be José Mourinho or Pep Guardiola. It probably would not be Brendan Rodgers or Roberto Martínez, who have club jobs they enjoy. Harry Redknapp? That ship has sailed. If it is to be an English candidate, the list might read Steve Bruce, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, Gareth Southgate or Gary Neville. England do not feel spoilt for choice.

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Oliver Holt (Daily Mirror): Forgive me, but I could have sworn we said we had low expectations for this World Cup. I'm sure I remember everyone saying England would be lucky to get out of the group and that this was all about the future. It was about giving it our best shot but making sure that we gave our promising young players tournament experience so they could have a real shot at Euro 2016. That is pretty much exactly how England's World Cup in Brazil has played out. So even though the disappointment is obvious and understandable, it does not really change anything.

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