By Greg Stobart
Paris Saint-Germain are preparing a sensational January bid for Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli.
The 22-year-old has fallen out of favour at City in recent weeks, and has not started for the Etihad Stadium outfit since their disappointing 0-0 draw with West Ham at the start of November.
The striker was not part of City’s squad that hammered Aston Villa 5-0 on Saturday due to injury, and he hit the headlines last week after being left out of the squad for his side’s victory over Tottenham for having a poor attitude in training.
“I told him this was the reason – because he didn’t work well for three days,” said Mancini on Friday.
“I think Mario needs to work harder. If any player doesn’t work hard it is difficult that he can play at this level. What you do in training you do in the game, and every player needs to work hard to improve his performance in the training sessions. After that he can play well in the game.”
Goal.com understands that City manager Roberto Mancini is eager to keep his forward at the Etihad Stadium having consistently backed the controversial 22-year-old since his €29.5 million move to the club from Inter in 2010.
However, the French club’s billionaire Qatari owners are prepared to test the resolve of the Premier League champions as they look to bolster their strikeforce with a marquee signing in the New Year.
Despite wanting to keep Balotelli, Mancini is himself keen on bolstering his striking options in January, with Stevan Jovetic and Radamel Falcao having been targeted by the Italian. But, he has been told he must sell players before he can bring in more big names, with reports in Italy suggesting the forward wants to return to his homeland to be with his pregnant partner.
PSG, who are also tracking Falcao, made an enquiry for Balotelli after Euro 2012 but withdrew their interest after being quoted a staggering €49.9m for the Italian.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti is closely monitoring Balotelli’s situation as he looks to bring in support for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who completed a big-money move to the French capital from AC Milan during the summer.
Milan and city rivals Inter have also targeted Balotelli in recent months, but PSG’s owners, the Qatar Investment Authority, have the funds to outbid both clubs if City decide to sell the striker.
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