Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has dismissed speculation linking troublesome striker Mario Balotelli with a move back to Italy.
Balotelli has endured a difficult season in the Premier League, with the Italian marksman confined to a substitute role for most of the campaign, while he was also involved in a training ground bust-up with Mancini last week.
The most recent incident has only intensified rumours of a potential return to the Serie A, with Italian giants AC Milan touted as possible destination.
But speaking ahead of his side’s visit to Arsenal on Sunday, Mancini has quashed talk of a move away from Etihad Stadium.
“No, it’s not true,” said the former Inter Milan tactician.
“I am very, very happy (with Mario).”
Defending champions City sit seven points behind rivals Manchester United at the top of the table – a figure that Mancini believes doesn’t reflect their season so far.
“Seven points is too much for me at the moment because I don’t think we deserve to be seven points behind but now we can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“We have to win but we have a difficult game against Arsenal but the season is long and it’s difficult and we have 17 other games where we can recover these points.”
Mancini has also called on the club’s strikers to find their touch in front of goal ahead of Sunday’s trip to London.
“For every striker there are moments where you don’t score and you don’t know why,” he said.
“This is football. I think last year we scored a lot of goals – maybe too many – but this year we’ve scored 15 goals less.
“But it’s important that Sergio (Aguero), Carlos (Tevez) and Edin (Dzeko) scored in the last three games.”
It’s been 37 years since City last beat Arsenal away in the league and the 48-year-old says his side are ready to put that record straight.
“To play against Arsenal in London is very difficult because they played very, very well,” Mancini said.
“But we have changed things since last year and I think the time is not to change this situation where we haven’t won in many years.
“It will be difficult because we’re missing important players but we want to do a good job.”
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