- Premier League
Balotelli hints at long City stay
Mario Balotelli says he is not thinking about returning to Serie A as he believes Italian football is in decline.
Balotelli, 21, has regularly been linked with a return to his homeland since leaving Inter Milan for Manchester City in the summer of 2010, and Roberto Mancini recently told Corriere dello Sera: "Sooner or later, Balotelli will go back to Italy."
However, Balotelli has said he is now adapting to life in England and, having found his form this season, has revealed he wants to remain at Manchester City long-term.
"I don't miss Serie A at all. Zero," he told a press conference ahead of Italy's friendly with Poland on Friday. "I'm very happy to be in England. Italian football has been in decline. The Premier League is beautiful and I play for the strongest team in England. I want to remain at City. I don't see a return to play in Italy in the future."
Balotelli did say that if he were to return, he could be tempted by a move to AC Milan, the side he supported as a boy. "I like Milan. They are a great club," he said. "They have had many champions play for them in the past and they still do. Players I would like to play with.
"I could return to Inter one day if certain things were in place. It would take an Inter side who were targeting the top, calm fans and people who don't want to smash my car in the city centre. For now, though, I'm not thinking about leaving England."
Balotelli feels he has improved significantly under the tutelage of Mancini and Italy boss Cesare Prandelli. "The Premier League has taught me to run a lot - to go for the ball and when I lose it to press to recover it," he said. "Now I have more playing time and this gives me more confidence.
"Prandelli and Mancini have helped me a lot, giving me the necessary calmness to play, something I didn't have previously."
Questions still remain over Balotelli's maturity as events in his private life continue to make the newspapers, but the striker feels the focus should be on his exploits as a player.
"In Italy and in England, there is the tendency to write more about my private life than what I do on the pitch," he said. "There are some newspapers that suck. They speak when they shouldn't, they say things that are not true. It's worse in England than it is here [in Italy]. People say that I'm mad, but I just enjoy myself. I am not crazy, absolutely not, although sometimes I do strange things that are considered entertaining."
Balotelli, who has won five caps for Italy without scoring a goal, is now determined to demonstrate that he can make an impact on the international scene.
"I need to wake up and get going," he said. "For me scoring is the biggest thing. Victories are important but so are goals. I know I can arrive to the top. If I'm good up front it's not because I'm fortunate. I do believe I can get closer to the level of other champions but I still have a lot of work to do."