Balotelli set for move to AC Milan

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Soccer:AC Milan confirmed this afternoon that they have agreed a deal for Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, reported to be in the region of €20 million.

The Italy international, a boyhood Milan fan, first broke through at rivals Inter Milan after a largely frustrating spell with the English champions.

“Transfer agreement for Balotelli signed with Manchester City. Medicals tomorrow in Milan, then personal terms until 2017,” Milan director Umberto Gandini said on Twitter. The club's TV channel said the same.

City manager Roberto Mancini, who gave the player his debut at Inter, had said Balotelli would not be leaving in the January transfer window but the striker's desire to go back to Italy appears to have won the day.

Going back to Italy will be no walk in the park for Balotelli, with Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi recently saying his fifth-placed Serie A side did not need a “rotten apple” like the combustible forward. Berlusconi later apologised.

A member of City’s starting line-up in the 2011 FA Cup final, when they ended a 35-year wait for a trophy, Balotelli also provided the crucial injury-time pass that set up Sergio Aguero for the dramatic Premier League title-winning goal at the Etihad Stadium in May.

But that momentous afternoon came just five weeks after manager Roberto Mancini had said Balotelli would never play for City again after the striker was sent off at Arsenal, having been lucky to avoid a red card earlier in the same game for a dreadful challenge on Alex Song.

Such lapses in professionalism have scarred Balotelli’s time with the Blues. There have been numerous training ground bust-ups; only recently he had to be separated from his manager after he lunged in on Scott Sinclair, whilst his petulant on-pitch behaviour led to City imposing a fine which he threatened to challenge at a Premier League tribunal until finally backing down in December.

Through most of the controversy, Mancini has stood by a player he has paid special attention to since they were together at Inter Milan.

And, until this season, Balotelli’s contribution on the pitch has been enough to keep Mancini and the City supporters on his side.

However, after returning from Euro 2012 with his reputation enhanced by a series of impressive performances for Italy, most notably the semi-final win against Germany when he scored twice, he has made negligible impact on the Blues’ title defence.

He has made just two substitute appearances since a dire performance against Manchester United at the beginning of December, when he was handed a surprise start, but did little of note before being substituted in the second-half.

Though Mancini and assistant David Platt have repeatedly stressed since then that Balotelli is going nowhere, rumours of a move to Italy have gained strength.

And now all that is required are the final touches to be put to the transfer of a player many will ultimately feel has been more trouble than he is worth.

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