By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Mario Balotelli is set to be rewarded for his growing status by being offered a new contract by Manchester City, Goal.com has learned.
The headline-grabbing striker’s current agreement runs until 2015 but City officials want to bring forward talks on a new deal to early in the New Year.
The Premier League champions resisted a €50 million (£40m) offer from big-spending Paris-Saint Germain this summer as well as sustained interest from the Serie A elite.
Balotelli’s two-year spell at the Etihad Stadium has been littered with controversy on and off the field, with manager Roberto Mancini having made no attempt to hide his frustration at his countryman’s antics.
But City are wary of allowing the Italy international’s contract to run into its final two years, when his sale-on value will begin to considerably diminish.
Goal.com understands that the club are preparing to rocket the forward, who turned 22 last week, towards the top end of their pay scale.
Balotelli is currently on €140,000-a-week (£110,000) and negotiations are likely to centre on the player joining the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez in the top bracket of City earners on around €255,000-a-week (£200,000).
The forward is represented by super-agent Mino Raiola, who stated that the player is now worth €255 million (£200m) following his impressive displays at Euro 2012.
He also masterminded Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s €37 million (£29m) switch from AC Milan to PSG this summer, earning the Swede €320,000-a-week (£250,000) after tax.
Balotelli insists that he is happy in Manchester but has refused to rule out a move back to his homeland or one of the Spanish giants in the next couple of years.
There is also genuine City concern that Balotelli’s cash-strapped admirers will urge the player to sit tight and continue to keep all his options open.
But City’s top brass are in no mood to sell and, although the Abu Dhabi owners make it a general rule not to open contract renegotiations during the season, they want to lay down an early marker in January, steeling themselves for what could be protracted talks.
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