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Manchester City in talks with Milan giants over Mario Balotelli

Published: January 29, 2013 | 8:50 am
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Roberto Mancini looks ready to cash in on Mario Balotelli
Manchester City have held talks with AC Milan and Juventus over the possible sale of Mario Balotelli, according to reports.
Press Association Sport claim that the Premier League champions will only let the controversial Italian leave if they receive an offer which matches their valuation of the 22-year-old striker.
City are not actively seeking to sell Balotelli, a position publicly maintained by manager Roberto Mancini, but contact is understood to have been initiated by the Italian clubs.
Balotelli has been consistently linked with a move Milan before Thursday’s transfer deadline throughout January but Juve’s interest has only just emerged.
It now remains to be seen whether either of the Serie A clubs can push through a deal of sufficient value and, if so, in time for City to find an adequate replacement.
Speculation in Italy has suggested Milan are prepared to pay around £20million plus add-ons but no offer has yet been accepted by City.
Previous reports have claimed City rate Balotelli’s worth at around £28million but there has been no confirmation of this.
Balotelli cost #24million when he signed from Inter Milan in August 2010.
Contrary to some reports, Balotelli has travelled with the City squad to London for Tomorrow’s Premier League game at QPR.
The forward is in contention to play having overcome the virus which kept him out of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round win at Stoke.
Balotelli’s future has been a matter of uncertainty since a below-par display in the derby defeat by Manchester United on December 9.
He has not started a game for the club since, first after being dropped and then because of a spell out through illness.
There have been two substitute appearances in January but he has long been fourth-choice striker behind Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko.
Balotelli’s campaign as a whole has been an underwhelming one with just three goals, only one in the Premier League, to his name.
There had been fewer of the off-field controversies which blighted his first two seasons at City this term, but then came a high-profile training-ground bust-up with Mancini earlier this month.
Yet even as many observers were claiming that incident must be the final straw for Mancini, the fiercely loyal manager himself said he was prepared to give him “another 100 chances”.
Mancini has also stated repeatedly that Balotelli will not be leaving that club and pointed out that, with three years left on his contract, his former Inter protege remains a big part of his plans.
But that did not quell persistent rumours from Italy suggesting that Milan would make a move, nor did conflicting statements from senior figures at the San Siro.
Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has been quoted describing Balotelli as a “rotten apple” and that the club cannot pay “Monopoly money” for him in recent weeks. Chief executive Adriano Galliani has also made regular statements about the player.
Whether or not Balotelli plays, the matter is likely to be raised in the aftermath of the game at Loftus Road as the transfer window enters its final 48 hours.
One important player who will not feature against the bottom side is captain Vincent Kompany, who limped off with a calf strain in the first half at the Britannia Stadium.
Kompany is also doubtful for Sunday’s home clash with Liverpool and, with the defender having been troubled by similar injuries in the past, assistant boss David Platt admits there is a worry.
Platt said: “It is a concern that it’s not a fresh injury. The calf is the strangest muscle – there is probably more re-occurrence than with hamstrings, groins and things like that.
“And it has happened on a couple of occasions, but the concern is to make sure we clear the problem and that is what we will be working through.”
City, short on defensive options with Kolo Toure at the African Nations Cup, are hoping Matija Nastasic can overcome a minor knee problem to return alongside Joleon Lescott.
Alternatives include 18-year-old Karim Rekik, midfielders Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell or playing a three-man defence. With leaders Manchester United not in action until Wednesday, City can apply pressure to their rivals by cutting their lead at the top of the table to two points with victory over Harry Redknapp’s QPR.

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