If there was doubt about Mario Balotelli’s precarious position at Manchester City, then the fact that it is likely he will leave the Etihad this January was indicated by his being left out entirely of their FA cup squad at the weekend.
Both Milan clubs have been persistently linked with Balotelli, and it is AC Milan who look closest to bringing him back to Italy this winter. Roberto Mancini has continued to insist that he wants to keep the player at the club, but that might just be part of Manchester City’s attempts to get the best possible price for their player.
The trouble is, that Milan are no longer a financial powerhouse in European football, and City’s reported £24 million price tag for Balotelli could be far too much for them. Milan also might want to pay in installments, whilst City would prefer the full amount up front.
However both City and Balotelli seem keen for the move to go ahead, and if a permanent deal can’t be struck, then a short term loan might be the best option for everyone.
Balotelli clearly isn’t happy at City at the moment, and a spell in Italy would likely be the best place for him to recover his form. If he was to have a successful period at Milan, both they and other potential suitors might be happier to pay City’s price.
Also given the potential for a change in management at City should Mancini be unable to bring in any trophies this year, a new manager might want the option of recalling Balotelli to his squad. The Italian is clearly a talented player, and a less combustible relationship with his manager could help him produce his best form in Manchester.
In Aguero, Tevez and Dzeko, City would have more than enough firepower for the rest of the season, and if they then chose to sell Balotelli in the summer, they would then be able to chase targets like Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao to replace him at a time of year when it’s more likely they will be sold.
If Milan cannot stump up the required fee, City should look at a loan for Balotelli, as if they are not going to use him on the pitch in the second half of the season, it seems risky to keep his unpredictable presence around the club at all.
image: © praguegallagher