Balotelli completes Milan move
Soccer: AC Milan have completed the signing of Mario Balotelli from Manchester City. The Italy striker, who previously played for Milan's rivals Inter, returns to San Siro on a four-and-a-half-year contract after a fee of around €22 million, rising to €25 million was agreed.
City confirmed Balotelli's exit on their website and the 22-year-old, who won the FA Cup and the Premier League in his two full seasons but made many headlines for his disciplinary problems, thanked manager Roberto Mancini for standing by him.
“I spoke with Roberto before I went to speak to the players," he said on the City website. "We spoke for some time about lots of things. He was sad, and I was too. I love Roberto, he has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me.
"Being at City was an important part of my life and career. I needed to grow up like a player and as a person and it has been a very good experience for me.
"I will remember, too, the song that City fans had for me. It was special for me and I always liked to hear it. I hope they can still sing it sometimes. I will always be interested in Manchester City and their fortunes. I really hope that City can win the league again this year and beat United. I think there are great players at the club and a great manager too."
Mancini added: "We are very sorry for him because he leaves the club but we hope Mario can continue to improve and continues to work hard because he is a top, top player."
Milan will present Balotelli to the press as a Rossoneri player on Friday evening.
A statement from the Serie A club read: “AC Milan announces that it has acquired from Manchester City Mario Balotelli, who has signed a contract until 30th June, 2017.”
The fee means City are just short of recouping the €28 million they paid Milan’s arch-rivals Inter for Balotelli in 2010.
He scored 30 goals in 80 appearances and his contribution City’s success was not insignificant, but he will be equally well remembered for four red cards, clashes with team-mates, brushes with discipline and other misdemeanours.
He never regained a starting place after a dismal performance in the derby defeat by Manchester United on December through a combination of illness and selection issues.
After the United game it emerged he has planning to take the club to a Premier League tribunal in a dispute over a club fine, although he later dropped the challenge.
He then became involved in a training-ground bust-up with Mancini earlier this month.
It proved the last of a long line of controversies as, although Mancini promised to give Balotelli “another 100 chances”, Milan’s interest ultimately proved tempting for all parties.
Balotelli had been linked with Milan throughout the month but City continually played down the prospect of him leaving. But with senior figures at Milan continuing to discuss the possibility of deal, rumours of his departure continued.
They intensified earlier this week and the move was all but confirmed by both clubs on Tuesday as Balotelli missed City’s Premier League game at QPR.