Mario Balotelli thanks Roberto Mancini for support
MARIO Balotelli has thanked Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini for his support after completing his much-hyped £19 million move from the Etihad Stadium to AC Milan.
Despite expressing his exasperation with the controversial player on numerous occasions, Mancini was fiercely loyal to the firebrand striker throughout his turbulent spell at City. Mancini, who first gave Balotelli a chance at Inter Milan, brought the unpredictable forward to City in 2010 and stood by him after a series of misdemeanours on and off the field.
The manager even vowed to give Balotelli “another 100 chances” after a high-profile training-ground fight with him earlier this month but Milan’s persistent interest in the player led to his departure.
After signing a four-and-a-half year contract at the San Siro, Balotelli revealed he said his farewells at City earlier this week. He told the club’s website: “I spoke with Roberto before I went to speak to the players. We spoke for some time about lots of things. He was sad, and I was too. But it was a good conversation. I love Roberto, he has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me.
“Being at City was an important part of my life and career. I needed to grow up like a player and as a person and it has been a very good experience for me.”
Balotelli scored 30 goals in 80 appearances for City and played key roles in the 2011 FA Cup success and last year’s Premier League title win. But, despite that contribution, the 22-year-old will be equally well remembered for four red cards, clashes with team-mates, brushes with discipline and other controversies.
The most recent of those, a challenge to a club fine which was later dropped and the bust-up with Mancini, sparked intense speculation he could leave. That was consistently denied by City but Milan sensed an opportunity to lure the player to his boyhood club and a fee of £19m, rising to £22m, was agreed this week.
That leaves City just short of recouping the £24m they paid Inter for his services two-and-a-half years ago. Balotelli said: “I will always be interested in Manchester City and their fortunes. I really hope that City can win the league again this year and beat United.”
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