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Balotelli going nowhere, insists Mancini

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes that striker Mario Balotelli will stay at the club.

That view has been backed up by Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola, who says his client will remain in blue for the foreseeable future.

Balotelli has been a controversial figure on and off the field ever since he signed for the club for 24 million pounds in 2010 from Inter.

The Italy international scored 13 goals in 23 appearances in the Premier League last season before shining at Euro 2012, but he has scored only once in the top flight in 2012-13 and continues to be dogged by disciplinary problems.

Despite his issues, Mancini revealed that the striker is still highly regarded by owner Sheikh Mansour.

“I think Mario will stay but the future depends mostly on him,” Mancini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world.

“We need to consider that Mario was made as a major investment, and this is not a club that throws its capital through the window.”

Mancini says he remains fond of Balotelli having overseen his development at two clubs but has acknowledged that the 22-year-old must raise his standards of professionalism.

“The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something,” he said.

“I love him because for many years we live together. I’ve seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I’ve told Mario what I need from him.

“The time of cheap talk is over. Balotelli is 22 years old and now it’s time to be professional. I ask from him seriousness and commitment in training, a more stable private life and correct behaviour on the pitch.”

Balotelli’s agent Raiola insists his client will remain with the club despite his recent absence from the first team.

“Mario will not move now because there is no reason to change teams,” he said.

“He’s not playing because he was sick and because there have been discussions with Mancini. However, the situation is resolving.”

Meanwhile, Mancini has denied reports linking Joleon Lescott with a move away from the club in the January transfer window.

Lescott has lost his place in the heart of the City defence, despite being an England regular, with Mancini seemingly choosing Serbian youngster Matija Nastasic to partner Vincent Kompany at centre back.

Mancini even preferred Kolo Toure at centre back following an injury to the Manchester City captain a few weeks ago, leaving Lescott as fourth choice. But with Toure due to leave for the Africa Cup of Nations next weekend, Mancini is adamant that Lescott is not for sale.

“We can’t sell players,” Mancini said. “We won’t have enough to play if we sell.”

Lescott had been attracting the interests of a few clubs, with a return to Goodison Park suggested.

Mancini, however, still has Lescott in his plans for this season. The England defender has made only seven league starts this season, which is in stark contrast to last season where he established himself in the heart of City’s defence.

Mon 31 December, 2012
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