Manchester City have denied reports that Mario Balotelli will ditch the Premier League champions over the hectic festive period in order to take paternity leave.
The Italian striker's model girlfriend Raffaella Fico is due to give birth on Christmas Day and reports today suggested that Balotelli would return to his home country for a fortnight to spend time with the new arrival.
Should Balotelli return to Italy for two weeks from Christmas Day, it would mean missing Manchester City's Premier League games against Sunderland, Norwich and Stoke, as well as the Third Round of the FA Cup.
However, his club say that having checked with its human resource department, coaching staff and the 22-year-old's representatives, there is "no basis" to the story.
"No request relating to paternity leave has been made by the player/his representative or received by the club," Manchester City said in a statement.