Manchester City set to top £100m mark after striking £23m deal for Inter striker Balotelli

July 20th, 2010

Manchester City were last night confident of clinching the signing of Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli as their summer spending rocketed towards the £100million mark.

City believe they have struck a £23m deal for the volatile 19-year-old, who is set to be reunited with his former Inter coach Roberto Mancini at Eastlands.

The club are banking on the City boss being able to tame Balotelli, the bad boy of Italian football who has attracted as many headlines for his behaviour off the pitch as on it since Mancini left the San Siro two years ago.

Balotelli fell out with Mancini’s successor, Jose Mourinho, and new Inter coach Rafael Benitez appeared resigned to losing the Italy Under 21 striker when he was asked about his future on Tuesday.

‘The club decide the transfers I adapt,’ said Benitez, who has faced speculation over Balotelli’s future from the moment he took over six weeks ago.

‘Do I fear being remembered in a few years as the coach who let Balotelli go? I repeat: I do not control the market. One player doesn’t make a team and Inter have many strong players.’

Inter were demanding £34m for a teenager who made his first-team debut under Mancini only twoand- a-half years ago and rejected City’s opening offer of £20m. But they look set to accept a reduced fee with the remainder payable in performance-related instalments.

If they succeed in landing Balotelli, it will take City’s outlay in the summer transfer window to £83m. With Lazio defender Alexander Kolarov expected to follow shortly for another £17m, it means the Premi er League club’ s spending could hit £100m before the end of July.

It remains to be seen whether City will now call off the chase for Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko or give up hope of signing their No 1 target Fernando Torres, but the club’s owners from Abu Dhabi are showing no signs of letting up in their relentless pursuit of success.

Even so, Balotelli represents the biggest gamble of the summer for a club who have already signed Yaya Toure, David Silva and Jerome Boateng.

Mario Balotelli is spoken to by Roberto Mancini.Photo: Offside / IPP.

Mancini enjoyed a special relationship with the youngster as he rose through the ranks at the San Siro and appears confident of ironing out any problems with Balotelli if given the chance to work with him again.

‘If Inter decide to sell, we will be there,’ he said recently. ‘I have no problems. The most important thing is that they are good, so that they go on the pitch and play well.’

Balotelli has developed into a player with powerful physique and sublime skills since he rewarded Mancini’s faith in handing him his full debut at the age of 17 by scoring twice in an Italian Cup game against Reggina.

Now 19, he has scored more goals than Roberto Baggio, Alessandro del Piero and Francesco Totti at the same age. He refers to his old boss as a ‘friend and a great coach’, but there are no guarantees Mancini will be able to tame a player whose career has veered worryingly off course.

Balotelli regularly clashed with Mourinho, who refused to give him the kind of special treatment and understanding he had enjoyed under Mancini, instead criticising his attitude and accusing him of slacking in training sessions.

The striker was axed from the Inter team on several occasions, most notably after an altercation with Mourinho on the eve of their Champions League last 16 trip to Chelsea in March.

A target for racist rival supporters, his relationship with Inter fans has also been strained. He incurred their wrath for throwing his shirt to the floor after the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, and again when he appeared on an Italian television show wearing an AC Milan shirt bearing his name.

There were even reports that he had received a police caution for scaring an old woman with a plastic gun.

Only on Tuesday, Roma captain and former Italy striker Totti gave an insight into Balotelli’s world when he described how he almost quit the game after being sent off for a violent clash with the youngster in an Italian Cup tie last season.

Goaded by constant taunts of ‘grandad’, 33-year-old Totti chased Balotelli for several yards before kicking him to the ground. If City do succeed in getting the man they call Super Mario, life certainly won’t be quiet.

                                                                              Source: Daily mail

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