Mancini confirms Balotelli to join AC Milan
Agence France-Presse in London
Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini confirmed on Tuesday that Mario Balotelli is set to return to Italy to join AC Milan, who had announced his transfer earlier in the day.
Milan said the controversial striker would arrive in Italy on Wednesday and undergo a medical examination before signing a 4½-year contract.
Reports in the Italian media said Milan would pay 20 million euros (US$27 million) to acquire the services of a player who previously played for their city rivals, Inter Milan.
Speaking after City’s 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League on Tuesday, Mancini told Sky Sports: “Both clubs are talking about him. I think that maybe tomorrow they can close it. Mario will go in for a medical.”
Balotelli has had a chequered time at City, making the headlines as much for his exploits off the pitch as for what he has achieved on it, but Mancini said he would be missed.
“We are very sorry [to lose him],” said the Italian.
“We love Mario like a guy, we love Mario like a player, but I think he had this big chance to back to Italy and play for a big club like Milan.
“I hope Mario can continue to improve and can show he is ready because I think if he works hard, he can continue his growing and he can become one of the best players in Europe.”
Earlier, the in-house Milan Channel announced: “Mario Balotelli to Milan, the player will come [Wednesday] for his medical and sign his contract.”
Milan director Umberto Gandini confirmed the deal, saying on Twitter: “Transfer agreement for Balotelli signed with Manchester City. Medical is tomorrow in Milan, then personal terms until 2017 will be signed.”
City paid Inter Milan US$35 million for the Italy striker in August 2010, but his time at the club has been peppered with controversy.
Balotelli, 22, will reportedly earn an annual net salary of US$6 million during a spell with Milan that is scheduled to run until 2017.
The striker, who scored three times for Italy on their run to the final of Euro last year, returns to his home country in a bid to relaunch a career that has gradually lost momentum this season.
He has scored just once in 14 Premier League appearances, as well as once in the League Cup and once in the Champions League.
Balotelli’s departure would leave City with only three senior strikers in Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko, but Mancini says there is not enough time to sign a replacement before the transfer window closes on Thursday.
“I don’t think so because we have two days and it’s difficult to buy a good player,” he said. “In this moment, I don’t think we can.”
Despite his contributions to the 2011 FA Cup success and last season’s dramatic league title triumph, Balotelli’s two-and-a-half-year spell at City looks destined to be remembered for a spate of controversial incidents.
At the beginning of this month, he was pictured apparently having a bust-up with Mancini during a training session, while in December he tried to take his club to court to contest their decision to fine him for his poor disciplinary record last season, before eventually dropping his appeal.
Balotelli was also caught up in numerous off-field incidents, including having to escape from his own house in October 2011 after starting a fire caused by letting off fireworks in his bathroom.