AC Milan set to sign Balotelli from Man City
MILAN — AC Milan announced on Tuesday that it has reached an agreement with Manchester City to sign Italy striker Mario Balotelli from the English champions.
City declined to comment on reports that a deal had been struck for the 22-year-old forward, who joined the Premier League club from Milan’s city rival Inter in 2010.
However, speaking after the team’s 0-0 draw at Queens Park Rangers late Tuesday, City coach Robert Mancini sounded resigned to losing the player.
“An agreement has been reached with Manchester City, Balotelli will have a medical tomorrow and then sign,” Milan director Umberto Gandini told The Associated Press. “If he doesn’t pass the medical, it won’t happen.”
Italian media reported that Balotelli would sign a 4½-year deal with Milan through 2017, bringing an end to a turbulent 2½ years in English football.
Asked about the day’s events, Mancini said: “It was difficult because I lost one striker, one important striker … it’s difficult to find a solution for us now.
“It will be a good chance for him to stay with his family, to play for Milan,” Mancini said of Balotelli. “I think he can improve and I’m happy he will become one of the best players in the world … you can be upset with him sometimes, but afterwards he’s a lovely lad.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli also believes Balotelli would be making the right move.
“Now a lot depends on him. He has everything he needs to show his true worth,” Prandelli told Italian news agency ANSA.
“It’s what Mario was looking for. He’s gone to a club which knows how to work with young players, including all the aspects off the pitch. Now it’s up to him.”
Reports said that Milan will pay €20 million ($27 million) plus bonuses for Balotelli, who will be taking a pay cut to move to the club he has supported since childhood.
Just three days ago, Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said City was sticking firm to its asking price of €37 million ($50 million) for Balotelli.
Although the news pages of Milan’s website made no comment on the move, the club’s online shop has already started selling shirts with Balotelli’s name on.
Balotelli, who will link up with fellow Italy striker Stephan El Shaarawy at Milan, progressed through the ranks at Inter — where he caused outrage by putting on a Milan shirt during an appearance on a national television show in March 2010.
He has never been far from the headlines for his antics off the field at City either and was recently involved in a training-ground altercation with Mancini.
Earlier this month, Milan president Silvio Berlusconi said the club would not be signing Balotelli, saying “if you put a bad apple in the changing room it can infect everyone.”
Balotelli will not be available for Milan’s Champions League last-16 matches against Barcelona in February and March, having already played in the competition for City. He could face his former club Inter for the first time in the Milan derby on Feb. 24.