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Premier League

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is 'as valuable as the Mona Lisa'

Striker linked with return to Italy

Mario Balotelli has been compared to a priceless work of art amid rumours that the Manchester City striker could return to Italy.

The striker has started just one of City's last eight games in all competitions through a combination of non-selection and injury, leading to rumours of a return to his native country. His poor form has only added smoke to the rumours, with the 22-year-old netting just one league goal all season.

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi added fuel last night by confirming his interest in the Italy international, saying of a possible deal: "No, it's not a dream. I never dream."

Despite his aversion to doing so, Berlusconi may only be able to dream about signing Balotelli after the striker's agent said no one would be able to afford his client.

"No Italian club would be able to afford him," Mino Raiola told Sky Sport Italia. "Balotelli is as valuable as the Mona Lisa.

"And City have been very clear - they don't want to sell."

AC Milan head coach Massimiliano Allegri is a confirmed admirer and hinted he would like to see Balotelli play alongside Rossoneri youngster Stephan El Shaarawy, who has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season.

Allegri said: "I think they have done great things with the Italian national team.

"(Balotelli) is a great player with extraordinary physical and technical qualities. However, given his qualities, I believe he has thrown away a few years of his career."