Controversial striker Mario
Balotelli will not be picked again this season by Manchester
City and is likely to be sold at the end of the campaign, said
manager Roberto Mancini after their 1-0 Premier League defeat at
Arsenal on Sunday.
Balotelli was sent off for the second time this season as
City's hopes of lifting the top-flight title for the first time
in 44 years were effectively extinguished at Emirates Stadium.
"I have finished my work with him, I am finished today, but
I love him as a guy," Mancini told reporters. "He is not a bad
guy and he is a fantastic player but at this moment I am very
sorry for him as he is continuing to lose his talent and his
"I hope he understands he is in a bad way for his future and
he must change his behaviour. He will not play again [this
season] and I will probably try to sell him in the summer.
"He is a fantastic player but I can't continue to have Mario
on the pitch. We have problems every time," Mancini said of his
fellow Italian after Manchester United opened an eight-point
lead over second-placed City at the top of the table.
"Every time we risk a sending-off, like today. Okay today it
was in the last few minutes but you can score a goal in the last
Balotelli has kept the front and back-page headline writers
busy with a succession of on and off-the-field antics all
The Italian international was lucky to stay on the pitch
after a dangerous studs-up first-half challenge on Arsenal's
Alex Song that the referee did not see.
Two separate yellow cards later for nasty challenges on
Bacary Sagna meant he was dismissed in the 90th minute.
During the week Mancini said that if he had been a team-mate
of Balotelli in his own playing days he would probably have
ended up punching him and even now he does not speak to him
every day "because if I did I would need a psychologist".
Having known him since Balotelli was a 17-year-old player at
his former club Inter Milan, Mancini said he understood his good
"I punished him earlier in the season," Mancini said, "and
anyone who says I allow different behaviour from Mario to the
other players - this is totally false".
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, during a spell in charge at
Inter, once said Balotelli was "unmanageable".
"If Mario continues like this I probably agree with that,"
said Mancini, "but he is 22 and when you are young you make
mistakes. But I hope for him, not for me, that he can change.
"I don't know if he will be banned for the next three or
four games but now I need to be sure I have 11 players on the
pitch and with Mario this is a big risk.
"It is clear he creates problems but he also scores
important goals. It was Mario who scored two goals against
United when we won 6-1, it was Mario who scored a penalty in the
last second against Tottenham.
"But he needs to change if he wants to continue to play.
I have seen a lot of players in my life like Mario that are
fantastic and good guys but they lose all their talent and
finish their careers in two or three years.
"That's where Mario is. He must change."
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