By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
AC Milan have stepped up their pursuit of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and are finalising a bid for the 22-year-old, Goal.com understands.
The San Siro outfit are confident of offloading Brazilian pair Pato and Robinho to accrue funds to sanction a move for the Italy international, on whom City have placed a £20 million price tag ahead of the January transfer window.
Milan are currently in negotiations with Corinthians over the sale of Pato, who will likely join the Club World Cup winners for a fee of around €15m (£12.3m) in the coming days, while Robinho has been offered to a number of clubs in his homeland by Rossoneri supremo Adriano Galliani, with Santos favourites to sign their former star after a deal with Flamengo fell through earlier in December.
The Serie A side are expected to approach City with an initial loan move for Balotelli with an option to buy in the summer, but the Premier League champions are keen to sell the forward on a permanent basis as soon as possible given his diminishing sell-on value due to a lack of games.
“The Balotelli situation has reached a point where both player and club simply want his time at City to end as soon as possible,” a source close to the situation told Goal.com.
“Mario has told his representatives that he is ready to leave Manchester. He is just waiting for the call from Italy.”
Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has previously ruled out the possibility of Balotelli or Didier Drogba joining in January but Goal.com understands the striker is keen to return to Italy.
Balotelli has not played for City since being hauled off before the hour mark in the Manchester derby, which Roberto Mancini’s side lost 3-2 on December 9, and his situation with the club deteriorated after taking City to a tribunal over a two-week fine for breaching club discipline rules, which he later retracted on December 19.
Goal.com exclusively revealed in early December that Balotelli had three weeks to save his City career with Mancini hoping for a significant change in attitude from his striker before the New Year.
While the City boss has long defended Balotelli’s behaviour at the club, he has stated that the former Inter man needs to start “thinking about his job” following the derby, criticising his lacklustre showing in the loss to Manchester United.
Balotelli is keen to return to Italy, and would even be willing to accept a small wage cut on his current £110,000-a-week salary to sanction a move to San Siro.
Milan are keen to add a top-class striker to their squad to play alongside the in-form Stephan El Shaarawy, with the likes of Giampaolo Pazzini and Bojan Krkic having failed to impress this term, with only 10 goals between them in all competitions.
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