City to give up on Balotelli if the fee is right


ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE:Manchester City believe Mario Balotelli could be bought by AC Milan, despite Silvio Berlusconi branding him a “rotten apple”, and the Premier League champions are willing to accept about €30 million for the troubled striker.

That equates to the fee City paid Inter Milan in 2010 for Balotelli. There is a sense that the comments from Berlusconi, AC Milan’s owner, about Balotelli potentially having a detrimental effect on the Italian club’s changing room may not represent the view of Massimiliano Allegri, the head coach.

Roberto Mancini and City continue to back Balotelli in public but privately the striker’s continuing erratic behaviour on the field and away from the game has exhausted patience at the Etihad Stadium.

Last week’s training-ground dispute between Mancini and Balotelli in which the manager attempted forcibly to push the forward off the field for a bad tackle on Scott Sinclair was the tipping point.

Although Mancini continues to admire Balotelli’s talent and holds out hope that the 22-year-old could become one of Europe’s premier strikers, were Milan – or any club – to make an offer near City’s valuation, he could be sold.

Central defender

Serious consideration is being given to bringing in a central defender. With Kolo Toure potentially absent until the middle of next month should Ivory Coast reach the Africa Cup of Nations final, City have only three experienced players in that position: Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott.

Dedryck Boyata has been recalled from his loan spell at FC Twente but Mancini would like a defender of first-team calibre. The Italian would prefer a permanent signing rather than a loan deal, with Everton’s Sylvain Distin, whose contract expires in the summer, broadly fitting the profile. Sergio Aguero looks certain to miss City’s trip to Arsenal on Sunday due to the torn hamstring he suffered during the 3-0 win over Stoke City on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder has been given 24 hours to decide if he wants to join Galatasaray, according to the Turkish club’s director of sport.

Inter president Massimo Moratti confirmed accepting a reported €10 million bid for the unsettled Holland international after Galatasaray made theirapproach public on Tuesday.

Guardian Service

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