Cartoon of the Day: Balotelli made to work for Manchester City stay

Mario Balotelli frustrated many in Manchester City’s derby defeat against arch rivals Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.

The Italian striker has just the rest of December to prove himself to chiefs at the Etihad Stadium, with AC Milan waiting in the wings to swoop for him if he cannot impress.

Roberto Mancini has regularly stood by his compatriot, but is he now facing a losing battle to help the 22-year-old become one of the game’s most feared strikers?

Balotelli made to work for Manchester City stay

Balotelli has three weeks to save Manchester City career as AC Milan prepare January bid

EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Mario Balotelli has just three weeks to save his Manchester City career as Italian giants AC Milan prepare a move in the January transfer window, Goal.com understands.

 
Milan are reluctant to meet City’s £20 million asking price for Balotelli but will prepare a bumper loan bid for the 22-year-old, who they will offer around £4m (€5m) per year to play at San Siro.
 
City manager Roberto Mancini is due to meet director of football Txiki Begiristain this week to finalise the club’s plans for the window, with Balotelli’s future top of the agenda after his poor performance in Sunday’s Manchester derby.
 

EXPERT VIEW
Vittorio Campanile | Goal.com Italy

AC Milan are very keen on making a statement of intent by signing Balotelli and making him their best paid player even if they would be unable to match the wages City are currently paying.

Allegri’s squad is still lacking a top class striker to play alongside Stephan El Shaarawy with the likes of Giampaolo Pazzini having struggled so far this season, but a loan deal looks the most likely option, certainly in January, with a permanent move on the summer dependent on Balotelli’s performances and whether City would be willing to accept less than the £24m they paid for the striker in 2010.

Mancini has accused Balotelli of risking his career with his lack of professionalism and is ready to allow the controversial striker to leave – either permanently or on loan – if his attitude does not improve before the New Year.
 
Balotelli’s contract expires in 2014 and there are no plans for City to offer him new terms as Begiristain and Mancini look to free up room to rebuild the squad, with Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao and Malaga playmaker Isco their top targets.
 
While City would prefer a permanent deal given the former Inter man’s sell-on value is rapidly diminishing, they accept that a loan move is more likely given Milan’s financial problems and fading interest from French side Paris Saint-Germain.
 
Balotelli is believed to be keen on a return to Italy – where he is currently visiting his newborn daughter – and would accept a small pay cut on his £110,000-a-week deal at City.

Mancini has consistently defended Balotelli – who has scored just one league goal this season – and convinced the City hierarchy to resist a big-money approach from PSG during the summer after the former Inter man starred at Euro 2012.
 
But Begiristain is keen to make his mark on the City squad and Mancini also appeared to lose patience with the forward on Sunday, replacing him with Carlos Tevez in the 52nd minute.
 
“I love Mario but it is important for him to start to think about his job,” Mancini said after his side’s 3-2 defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

“He has everything to play well but he can’t continue to play like today. We wanted more from him.
 
“When you have a player that has Mario’s quality, you cannot understand why he continues to throw it out of the window. It is incredible.

“I have seen players in my life with fantastic quality. But in the end, they did nothing. I don’t want Mario to finish like these players. It would be bad for him.”

The deal could be complicated by a frosty relationship between City and Milan following protracted negotiations over a move for Carlos Tevez last season, which eventually fell through as the Argentine striker stayed in Manchester.

Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, has claimed his client will remain at City after the close of the January transfer window. He said: “Absolutely [he will]. You can ask me the question another four hundred times and it will always be the same answer.”

But Goal.com understands Balotelli would welcome a transfer in the New Year while, in any case, the decision on his future is likely to be taken out of his hands by Begiristain and Mancini.

Balotelli joined City from Inter for £24m in 2010 but has never hidden his desire to one day play for their great rivals, having once been pictured wearing an AC Milan shirt to the fury of the Nerazzurri supporters.

Follow Greg Stobart on

Mancini frustrated with Balotelli's performance in Manchester derby

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini admits he is baffled by Mario Balotelli after the forward turned in a below-par performance in their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.

Balotelli, who took his place amongst the starting XI ahead of Carlos Tevez, was hauled off for the Argentina international on 52 minutes after a largely ineffectual display.

And, whilst Mancini believes the former Inter man is talented, the 48-year-old was unable to hide his frustration at the striker’s recent performances.

“I love Mario but it is important for him to start to think about his job,” he told Sky Sports.

“He has everything to play well but he can’t continue to play like today. We wanted more from him.

“When you have a player that has Mario’s quality, you cannot understand why he continues to throw it out of the window. It is incredible.

“I have seen players in my life with fantastic quality. But in the end, they did nothing. I don’t want Mario to finish like these players. It would be bad for him.”

Mancini also defended his decision to start the 22-year-old, highlighting the players physical attributes as a key factor in his decision.

He added: “It is easy to say after the game. I thought Mario could create problems for them. He is young and runs quickly – when you decide before the game this is what you think.”

'We have four strikers who can't score' – Mancini lashes out at Manchester City's misfiring forwards

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has revealed his frustration at his strikers and says his side must score more goals, despite lying second in the Premier League table.

The champions possess a vast array of attacking riches in Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko but the expensively assembled quartet have scored only 19 goals between them so far.

In contrast Manchester United’s Robin van Persie, who City tried to sign during the summer, has 10 goals already this season and Mancini wants more from his strikers.

“It’s always the case that you can have one striker in a difficult spell during the season,” he told reporters.

“Usually, when you have four strikers, two or three of them are not scoring but one is.

“But at the moment we have four strikers who can’t score.

“This can change maybe on Sunday and after that it will be OK. But we need to work more.

“Our season depends on our strikers. If we start to score like last year we will have a big chance.”

Balotelli is a liability, Welbeck is an average player – do Manchester City or Manchester United have the better striker?

‘Why always me?’ Mario Balotelli famously asked. Well now he’s the centre of attention once again, as Carlo Garganese and Peter Staunton take to the debating ring.

Peter has branded Manchester City’s controversial Italian a ‘liability’, insisting that United’s Danny Welbeck is a better asset to have, a suggestion that Carlo has branded ‘crazy’.

Their opinions are clear, but what do you think?

Leave your thoughts in the comment box below to have your say. Who’s better… Mario Balotelli or Danny Welbeck?