NEW YORK:  No clearer signal could have emerged that times have changed at Arsenal than the club’s interest in Milan’s always-disorientated Italy striker Mario Balotelli; The thought of a meeting of minds between ‘Super Mario’ and ‘professor’ Arsene Wenger was almost surreal.

Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has insisted that Balotelli is not for sale but this may not be the end of the matter.

In the meantime Arsenal, while Wenger and his players are in the United States, are pursuing other transfer targets. Bids have been lodged for Brazilian midfielder Douglas – who wants out of Ukraine’s Shahktar Donetsk because of the troubles in eastern Ukraine – as well as for Southampton’s teenage right-back Calum Chambers.

Chambers has made only 18 Premier League starts for Southampton and would cost £11m yet Wenger has had no hesitation over the fee, such is the potential he sees in the 19-year-old.

After the signings of Chile’s Alex Sanchez and France rightback Mathieu Debuchy, Arsenal have concluded the £3.5m purchase from Nice of Colombia’s World Cup goalkeeper, David Ospina.

However Wenger has insisted that Wojciech Szczesny will start the season as first choice. Wenger said: “At the start Szczesny will be the No1 then again we’ll be down to performances and, if Ospina shows that he is better, he will play.”

Arsenal were missing their World Cup Germans as they opened their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 defeat against ‘old boy’ Thierry Henry and Red Bull New York. Henry’s corner created the only goal for Bradley Wright-Phillips in the 32nd minute.

England’ early World Cup exit meant Jack Wilshere could play and start. He put in a number of lively tackles and shots as a penance after being photographed smoking in a Las Vegas nightclub while on holiday. This is not the first time Wilshere has been picked out by fans for smoking and he has promised – again – to mend his ways.