Manchester City have held talks with Serie A giants AC Milan and Juventus over the possible sale of Mario Balotelli, according to sources close to the club.
The controversial striker has been continually linked with Milan throughout the current transfer window while Juve’s interest has only just emerged.
Yet while news of the talks may increase the possibility of a sale before Thursday’s transfer deadline, City are still likely to hold out for a price they believe represents good value.
City have not yet accepted an offer for Balotelli. Speculation in Italy has suggested Milan are prepared to pay £20 million plus add-ons.
Previous reports have claimed City rate Balotelli’s worth at around £28m. He cost £24m when he signed from Inter Milan in August 2010.
As manager Roberto Mancini has maintained throughout the month, City are not actively pushing to sell.
City manager Mancini has been highly dismissive of all the speculation and his assistant David Platt expressed a similar attitude ahead of tonight’s trip to QPR.
Platt said: “I saw that speculation yesterday but I’ve not heard anything.”
Platt was also unsure whether City would be making any moves into the transfer market this week. City have defensive problems with captain Vincent Kompany injured and Kolo Toure at the Africa Cup of Nations but that is only a short-term issue. Platt said: “We are at Manchester City — a top club that competes for top trophies. As a result of that you can’t just go out and get anybody and think they are going to fill the gap that somebody leaves.
“That gap Vinny has left could be a fortnight, it could be three weeks.
“It is not a six-month gap, something ridiculous we feel we can’t do with the squad we have available.”
Kompany’s calf strain rules him out of tonight’s Premier League game at Loftus Road, (7.45pm) and he is also doubtful for Sunday’s clash with Liverpool. City’s choices at centre-back could be further limited if Matija Nastasic does not overcome a minor knee problem.
Teenager Karim Rekik, an unused substitute at the weekend, is a potential option to play alongside Joleon Lescott while midfielders Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell could be used as stop-gap measures. Alternatively, City could again deploy a three-man back line.
The game offers City the chance to cut the gap to Manchester United to two points. Balotelli is available to play, as is Samir Nasri.
Meanwhile chairman Tony Fernandes has vowed to stay at QPR even if the club are relegated.
Fernandes said after the weekend FA Cup defeat to MK Dons that he would relinquish his ownership of the club should he fail to fix the problems that see Rangers bottom of the table.
Despite fan attacks on Twitter, Fernandes said yesterday he would stay at the club regardless of what happens in the future. Fernandes tweeted: “Fantastic response from QPR fans. Good chat with Harry. I’m a fighter so if fans want me to stay I stay whatever happens.”
QPR manager Harry Redknapp feels his chairman could be paying the price for opening himself up to supporters via social networks.
“The only advice I’d give Tony is get off Twitter,” Redknapp said.
Loic Remy and Tal Ben-Haim are the only new players to have arrived at Loftus Road so far, much to Redknapp’s dismay.
“This transfer window, I have never seen anything like it. Every agent seems to be trying to screw each other,” the QPR boss said.
“It’s like gang warfare out there — it’s scary. They’re all fighting for big money – that’s the problem.”
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