Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes that Mario Balotelli will stay at the club and has revealed that the striker is still highly regarded by owner Sheikh Mansour.
Balotelli has been a controversial figure on and off the field ever since he signed for the club for £24 million back in 2010 from Inter.
The Italy international scored 13 goals in 23 appearances in the Premier League last season before shining at Euro 2012, but he has scored only once in the top flight in 2012-13 and continues to be dogged by disciplinary problems.
“I think Mario will stay but the future depends mostly on him,” Mancini told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world.
“We need to consider that Mario was made as a major investment, and this is not a club that throws its capital through the window.”
Mancini says he remains fond of Balotelli having overseen his development at two clubs but has acknowledged that the 22-year-old must raise his standards of professionalism.
“The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something,” he continued.
“I love him because for many years we live together. I’ve seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I’ve told Mario what I need from him.
“The time of cheap talk is over. Balotelli is 22 years old and now it’s time to be professional. I ask from him seriousness and commitment in training, a more stable private life and correct behaviour on the pitch.
“[Roma forward Francesco] Totti is Mario’s best example. If Francesco is able to have this continuity of performance at the highest level at the age of 36 years, it’s because he has behaved as a professional.
“Mario now has returned to training and could be on the bench against Stoke. Otherwise, he could play against Watford in the FA Cup on January 5.”