Balotelli throws City future into doubt

MARIO BALOTELLI has thrown his future at Manchester City into fresh doubt by revealing that he has no friends in England and would move back to Italy if he had to switch clubs.

The Italian forward has enjoyed the most successful period of his City career so far this season but has also been embroiled in controversy with a training-ground bust-up with team-mate Micah Richards and a spell staying in a Manchester hotel after a fire at his house started when a firework went off in one of the bathrooms.

Balotelli, who is doubtful for tonight’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool, rates City coach Roberto Mancini as the one who could get the best out of him — though he also hit out at the English media for exaggerating stories about him which are then repeated back in Italy. But it is his comments about his life in England and his future that will be of most concern to City fans.

“I’m 21 and I’ve almost spent two away from home,” said the forward. “I’ve adapted quite well, despite the abysmal differences. But I don’t have any real friends here. If I had to move right now I’d choose Italy.”

Balotelli was talking to Italian fashion magazine L’Uomo Vogue, which hits the news-stands this week.

And though he spoke of his frustration about certain aspects of his life in England, he was not expressing a desire to leave the club. Indeed, earlier on Tuesday, he told Italian station Radio Radio that he was happy in Manchester. But his comments to L’Uomo Vogue hint at the frustrations with his life in England, particularly with the manner in which he is covered by the press.

“If I buy a Fiat Uno, I read that for someone like me a Ferrari is better-suited. If I choose a Ferrari, you write that I should have kept my feet on the ground and bought the Fiat Uno. If I laugh, I’m not professional; if I don’t laugh, I am a sulky rich guy who can’t even enjoy the most beautiful job in the world. Here in England, the sensationalist press write anything, and they always exaggerate. The thing that bothers me the most is that in Italy the tabloid nonsense is re-printed without any verification. That way, many of my compatriots take it all as the gospel truth.”

But Balotelli did have words of praise for Mancini, the coach who admitted he treats his tricky striker like a son, and sometimes makes allowances for him. While his previous coach at Inter, Jose Mourinho, declared Balotelli ‘unmanageable’, Mancini has been able to harness his talent for the team’s benefit.

“Mourinho is among the best coaches but on a personal level I’d say first Mancini then Mourinho. A coach must get 100% out of a player and Mancini is very good because that’s what he’s doing (with me).”

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