Balotelli agent rules out AC Milan move: He costs as much as the Mona Lisa

Mario Balotelli’s agent has insisted that “no teams in Italy” could afford the Manchester City forward, amid speculation that AC Milan are preparing a bid for the striker.

The 22-year-old, who is behind Carlos Tevez, Segio Aguero and Edin Dzeko in Roberto Mancini’s pecking order at City, has been continually linked with a move to the Italian giants who are currently struggling in Serie A – sitting in seventh position.

The club’s president, Silvio Berlusconi, has recently suggested that their reported interest in the Azzurri international is serious, commenting that signing the controversial attacker “is not a dream” with the January window around the corner.

However, Balotelli’s agent has now rubbished talks that his client is set to switch the Etihad Stadium for the San Siro in the New Year, indicating that he would be too expensive for all Italian sides, comparing his value to that of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

“Balotelli costs as much as the Mona Lisa,” Mino Raiola told Sky Sport Italia. “There are no teams in Italy who could afford him.”

The work of art was last valued in terms of insurance in 1962 for around £62 million, which, taking into account of inflation, would be the equivalent of £477m today.

Despite the former Inter Milan striker starting just eight games for City this season, his agent also indicated that, even if Milan had the funds, the Premier League outfit are not willing to let their enigmatic forward leave.

Raiola added: “Manchester City don’t want to sell Balotelli.”

Hummels and Weidenfeller hail 'extraordinary' Balotelli

Borussia Dortmund players Mats Hummels and Roman Weidenfeller have hailed Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli as “an extraordinary player” and “a cool guy”.

The mercurial Italian was involved in both of the meetings between the sides in the Champions League this term, netting a late penalty to earn a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium in October before taking to the field at Signal Iduna Park to a chorus of boos on Tuesday evening.

Dortmund defender Hummels, who was left reeling by Balotelli’s performance for Italy in the semi-final of Euro 2012 against Germany, has revealed he considers the attacker a “favourite” amongst his group of friends, and believes the reports of his off-the-field misdemeanours are often exaggerated.

Hummels, who swapped shirts with the striker after the match, told reporters: “Balotelli has a special meaning for me, my brother and my friends.

“I’ve had the order to get a shirt from him for two years. It did not work out after the first match and after the Euro semi-final when he scored twice against us I had other things on my mind.

“He’s a favourite in our group of friends. We think he’s a cool guy, a great player. I don’t believe that all the stories you hear about him are that bad.”

Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller, who was involved in a brief confrontation with the former Inter player before he struck the penalty in the draw in Manchester, insists he did not deserve the hostile reception which greeted him during City’s 1-0 defeat on Tuesday.

“I feel a little bit sorry for him because all the supporters whistled,” Weidenfeller told reporters. “He doesn’t deserve that, he’s a sportsman like everybody else.

“Of course everybody remembers how he scored against Germany, how he stole our victory in Manchester.

“But you have to admit that he’s an extraordinary player. I think it’s cool how he isn’t influenced by anybody. He gets his share of beatings by the press but he keeps going his own way.”

'In January, we will see' – AC Milan boss Allegri tempted by Balotelli move

AC Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri has talked up the prospect of bringing Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli to San Siro in January.

The Italy striker, who joined the Premier League club from Inter in 2010, has been out of favour at the Etihad Stadium this season, making just one start in the last eight matches.

And it appears that the Rossoneri could offer City boss Roberto Mancini the chance to cash in on the controversial striker after Allegri revealed his admiration for the 22-year-old.

“He is an important player with extraordinary physical and technical qualities,” the Milan coach told reporters.

“I believe, however, given his qualities, he threw away a few years of his career.” 

The former Calgliari boss also highlighted Balotelli’s international partnership with Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy as a tantalising prospect.

“I think they have done good things with the Italian national team,” he added.

“But I want to talk about AC Milan and the players I have. Then, in January, we will see what happens.”

Speculation surrounding the mooted deal was further fueled by Milan president Silvio Berlusconi who, when quizzed by Sky Sport Italia about a potential move for the forward, replied: “No, it’s not a dream. I never dream.”

'Sometimes you want to kill Mario' – Zabaleta on Balotelli's Manchester City antics

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has joked that occasionally he wants to “kill” Mario Balotelli due to the striker’s eccentric behaviour.

Zabaleta concedes Balotelli has had his fair share of controversy since his arrival in Manchester, but insists that, despite his problems, the forward is destined for great things.

The 27-year-old believes his team-mate has the potential to vie for football’s most prestigious awards, and is adamant the striker has the right club and manager to help him achieve these feats.

“Since Mario arrived he has done positive and negative things,” Zabaleta told Omnisport.

“He is a player, a person too, who is very difficult to understand because you never know what he is going to come up with next.

“As a player sometimes not all you have in the feet you have in the head and Mario is a character that, as a team-mate, sometimes you laugh at what he does and sometimes you want to kill him. But in the end he is a great person. 

“As a player he has a great talent. If he wanted I don’t know if he would be fighting the Ballon d’Or with Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] but he would be close to being one of the best strikers in the world.

“As a player, as I said before, he has done good and bad things at this club, but I think there is nobody better than Roberto [Mancini], who had him at Inter and brought him here, to make Mario able to be mentally prepared to want to carry on growing.”

The former Espanyol defender also had high praise for City manager Roberto Mancini, who he believes has brought success back to the club, after a long wait for silverware.

“I think that Roberto is a manager that arrived at the club with the mission of consolidating the project that Manchester City started in 2008,” he added.

“The club hadn’t won practically anything in 44 years and it was possible to win important titles like the FA Cup and the Premier League last year, and I think the people of Manchester City acknowledge Mancini’s work.

“What he has done so far is great, but once you achieve these important things you have to stay the same, trying to consolidate this great project by winning more titles.

“Mancini is the manager and the people have given their backing to him, especially after the matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea. Right now he is the manager and he will know how to work in the future.”

The tireless full-back has also welcomed the competition for places at the club, with his own under threat since the arrival of Maicon in the summer.

“Yes, obviously when a team wants to fight in every competition you always need at least two players in every position, to face a long intense year with many matches,” he continued.

“It is almost impossible for a player to play in all the matches especially here in England where you have the FA Cup, the League Cup. 

“Then Mancini decided at the start of the season after Micah Richards’s injury to go out and buy another right back. Maicon was available in the market. He had worked with Maicon at Inter and knew him.

“It is always good for the team to have alternatives, because then you have a healthy competitiveness as every player wants to do well in order to play as many matches as possible.

“So far I have been playing a lot of matches, and that is the thing that leaves me more at ease.”

Extra Time: Balotelli blends in with camouflage onesie

Were you wondering why Roberto Mancini has not picked Mario Balotelli regularly of late? It appears we now have the answer – he couldn’t see him.

If you hadn’t realised already, that is Balotelli wearing a camouflage ‘onesie’, surrounded by a similarly decorated car and quad bike for – we are assuming – secret missions around the rolling Manchester countryside.

The pictured was captioned with the line “i am ready for the match today”, in relation to Manchester City’s home game against Everton on Saturday, although Balotelli came on for a 10-minute cameo at the end of the game as Mancini’s men searched for a winner in the 1-1 draw.

The photo was initially thought to be posted by the striker as a way to announce his arrival on Twitter, but City have since denied the legitimacy of the account.

The club tweeted: “Please note, Mario Balotelli does not have a Twitter account.

“All those posing as him are fake. If he joins, we will let you know!”