• Premier League

AC Milan claim Balotelli signing

ESPN staff
January 29, 2013

Mario Balotelli is set to join AC Milan on a four-and-a-half year deal according to the Italian club.

It appears that Balotelli, 22, will move to the San Siro on Wednesday after completing a medical, but nothing has been formally signed yet according to City sources and despite a tweet from Milan director Umberto Gandini.

Gandini wrote: "Transfer agreement for Balotelli signed with Manchester City. Medicals tomorrow in Milan, then personal terms until 2017 signing."

Balotelli has been linked with a move away from the Etihad in recent months after falling behind Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko in the pecking order. And a training ground bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini only served to highlight his rift with the club.

First-team coach David Platt denied that the former Inter Milan player was set to depart on Monday, saying: "I saw that speculation [on Sunday], but I've not heard anything. It's a shame Robbie [Mancini] is not here. He might know more than me but, as far as we are concerned, I think he is still a Manchester City player."

Balotelli signed from Inter for £22 million in 2010 and has scored 20 goals in 53 Premier League appearances for the club. A member of City's starting line-up in the 2011 FA Cup final, when they ended a 35-year wait for a trophy, Balotelli also provided the crucial injury-time pass that set up Sergio Aguero for the dramatic Premier League title-winning goal at the Etihad Stadium in May 2012.

But that momentous afternoon came just five weeks after manager Roberto Mancini had said Balotelli would never play for City again after the striker was sent off at Arsenal, having been lucky to avoid a red card earlier in the same game for a dreadful challenge on Alex Song. Such lapses in professionalism have scarred Balotelli's time with the Blues.

Through most of the controversy, Mancini has stood by a player he has paid special attention to since they were together at Inter. And, until this season, Balotelli's contribution on the pitch has been enough to keep Mancini and the City supporters on his side.

However, after returning from Euro 2012 with his reputation enhanced by a series of impressive performances for Italy, most notably the semi-final win against Germany when he scored twice, he has made neglible impact on the Blues' title defence.

He has made just two substitute appearances since a dire performance against Manchester United at the beginning of December, when he was handed a surprise start, but did little of note before being substituted in the second half.

Following City's 0-0 draw with QPR on Tuesday night, Mancini backed Balotelli's move but expressed his regret that the striker was leaving the club.

"I think that they are very close [to a deal]," Mancini said. "We are also so sad because Mario was an important player for us. He is a fantastic player but I think for him this could an important chance to go back to Italy and play for another top club like Milan.

"I hope he can continue to improve because he can become one of the world's best players."

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