Man City want Balotelli out, but Mancini still has faith
Striker's legal dispute with the club could rumble on into next year
CONFUSION surrounds the future of Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who is locked in a legal dispute with the club after he was fined £340,000 over his disciplinary record.
There are now conflicting reports about whether or not he will be sold in the transfer window and it has been claimed that a "divisive legal battle" between the club and player could run into the new year.
Balotelli was handed the fine, described as "unusual", after missing more than 20 per cent of City's games last season because of suspension. The club handed down the penalty and a misconduct charge on the basis that he had breached his contract.
The matter is now being dealt with by a Premier League tribunal, but the Daily Telegraph reports that Balotelli will continue his action against the club even if City win, as the sanction fell outside guidelines agreed with the Professional Footballers Association.
It means that after the Carlos Tevez row last season, City once again go into the new year with one of their strikers in the doghouse, and there could be moves to offload him in January. But finding a buyer might not be simple.
"Balotelli has few allies in the City dressing room, with many having lost patience with his attitude and contribution," says the Telegraph. "At board level, Balotelli is regarded as a magnet for controversy, a player whose behaviour reflects badly on the club and Abu Dhabi [whose royal family own the club], while in his native Italy most clubs seem to have already learnt that Balotelli's talent is outweighed by his immaturity and his indifference to authority."
His future appears to rest with City manager Roberto Mancini who, according to the Daily Mail, "continues to cling to his own belief that he can shape the former Inter player in to the finished article".