Manchester City were first choice says Balotelli

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The Independent Online

Mario Balotelli insisted Manchester City were always top of his wish list when he was about to leave Inter Milan.

The 20-year-old striker was unveiled at a press conference today and said he was thrilled to be at Eastlands.

Balotelli said: "I am happy to be here at Manchester City because of the manager (Roberto Mancini) and the environment.

"I was sorry to leave my family and friends behind in Italy but not for professional reasons."

Balotelli was frequently criticised by Jose Mourinho, his coach at Inter Milan last season.

However, he said: "I am not a bad boy. I am just a normal guy."

City boss Mancini added: "All of us are said to be bad boys when we are young.

"But I have worked with Mario before and he is a normal person.

"He is young player, only 20 years old, who can do a lot in the Premier League. He has all the qualities needed to become a fantastic player."

Balotelli could make a surprise debut on Thursday against Timisoara in the Europa League.

It was widely expected that the striker, who joined the club last week on a five-year deal, arrived too late to be included in the squad.

However, UEFA confirmed that Balotelli still had a chance of playing in the play-off first-leg match as one change can be made to the original list.

City, though, face a race against time as the 20-year-old's registration needs to approved by both the Football Association and UEFA before midnight tomorrow.

UEFA article 18.14 states: "For the three qualifying rounds and the play-offs, one player on List A may be changed until 24.00 CET on the day before the relevant first-leg match, provided that the club's national association confirms in writing that the new player is eligible to play at domestic level at this time."

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