Italian giants vie for Balotelli: reports
MILAN, Italy (AFP) –
Speculation over Mario Balotelli’s possible exit from Manchester City intensified Friday a day after the striker’s daughter was born in his native Italy.
Italy international Balotelli is enduring a turbulent season at the English Premier League champions.
But despite recent links to AC Milan, a club he has admitted to supporting, the Italian sports media has spiced up the rumour mill by claiming former club Inter Milan and champions Juve are also chasing the player’s signature.
The reports come a day after model Raffaella Fico gave birth to the couple’s baby girl, who has been named Pia. Balotelli is reported to be planning a trip to Italy to see the child for the first time next week.
Gazzetta dello Sport meanwhile carried a front page picture of Balotelli wearing a jersey with the colours of all three Italian clubs.
The report, which carried no official club sources, claimed “AC Milan was the first (club) to show interest but Inter remembers having the first right of refusal and Juve …”
While both Milan and Juventus are reportedly looking for an out and out striker in the mould of Balotelli, Inter reportedly have a buy-back option on the man they sold to City for 22 million euros in August 2010, a sale on which the Nerazzurri made a profit of over 21 million.
After their qualification for the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday, Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni admitted their first Christmas wish was for a top striker.
“We’d like a central striker, something we all know we’ve been missing from the start.
“That’s the only type of player we’re lacking but, as I’ve said, either someone like this comes in or we’ll focus on getting everyone fit.”
Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola appeared to up the ante for potential suitors earlier this week when he claimed the unsettled striker is like the Mona Lisa, virtually unaffordable.
“In Italy, no club could afford Balotelli,” said Raiola.
Those comments came in the wake of reports which claimed AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, a known admirer of ‘Super Mario’, wants to re-create his partnership with fellow Italy striker Stephan El Shaarawy.
Raiola, however, added that Balotelli’s current market value is “like the Mona Lisa. He doesn’t have a fixed price tag, and it depends on who the buyer is.
“Since no one is buying, he is priceless.”
Balotelli was recently warned by manager Roberto Mancini to change his poor attitude to his profession or face the consequences.
Mancini, who gave Balotelli his debut at Inter Milan, has remained loyal to the player despite a series of headline-grabbing incidents in the two-and-a-half years since he joined the club.