Mancini backs Balotelli to blossom at Milan
London – Roberto Mancini admitted he will be disappointed to see Mario Balotelli leave Manchester City for AC Milan, but insists the move is in the best interests of the Italy forward.
Balotelli was missing from English champions City’s goalless Premier League draw away to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road yesterday as his reported £19 million (R270 million) transfer was finalised.
The striker’s spell at the Eastlands has been marked by a succession of controversies on and off the pitch, but City manager Mancini insisted his side would miss the erratic player during the final weeks of the season.
“Mario was an important player for us,” said Mancini of his fellow Italian. “With Mario we won the Premier League and the FA Cup in two years.
“He’s a fantastic player but, for him, this could be an important chance to go back to Italy and play for a big club in Milan.
“It was a difficult decision because I lost a striker, an important striker, and he could be important in the next 14 games.
“But it’s important for Mario to go back to Italy. It will be a good chance for him to stay with his family, to play for Milan. I think he can improve and I’m happy he will become one of the best players in the world.”
Balotelli’s impact has been limited this season with the striker scoring just one Premier League goal and his final weeks of the club were overshadowed by a training pitch confrontation with his manager.
Mancini, though, denied he had grown frustrated with a player he worked with at Inter Milan when Balotelli made his Serie A debut.
“I invest a lot of time with all players,” Mancini added.
“With Mario, maybe more. But I think that Mario is in the history of the club because we won three trophies in two-and-a-half-years, and he scored an important goal in big matches like Manchester United away. He did very well.
“We love Mario and he deserves to have this chance. For me, he was not a problem. For me, Mario was like another one of my children. Mario is this.
“You can be upset with him sometimes, but afterwards he’s a lovely lad.”