Mancini: Balotelli in world's top five players

 

It had always looked like a risky decision to relocate Mario Balotelli from Manchester's Deansgate to the bucolic surrounds of Mottram St Andrew, where his most outlandish neighbour is Michael Carrick. The 21-year-old's family were actually urging him to abandon thoughts of a rural home a year ago because they didn't know how he would occupy himself.

He certainly arrived with a bang, and Cheshire Police may have further involvement in the fireworks episode in the early hours of Saturday which saw the striker forced to relocate to a hotel. Mercifully for Roberto Mancini, Balotelli's two goals and a t-shirt enabled the latest scrape with disaster to be put aside last night.

Mancini is expected to speak to Balotelli about the firework incident in the next 48 hours, though it will not be a heavy censure, judging by his declaration last night that the player is one of the best five in the world. "I don't know what happened about the fireworks," Mancini said. "The important thing is Mario and his friend were OK. For today, Mario played very well. I put him [Mario] in the first five players in the world. The problem after is his age. He is young and maybe sometimes can do some mistakes. Like a player, he is incredible."

This was a level of generosity that some other City players will find it hard to recognise in Mancini. Balotelli is 21, after all, and not a child. Mancini didn't name his other world top four, though the suggestion that Balotelli stands above Sergio Aguero is an eye-catching one.

The manager's paternal approach is the only one that will enable him to hold on to a £27m player who, without it, would probably have returned to Milan already. The "Why is it always me?' t-shirt Balotelli revealed after his exquisite first goal – altering his body shape to glide a ball, first time, past Jonny Evans – said it all. But it served only to deepen Mancini's affection.

"I didn't see the t-shirt, but Mario," Mancini said. "I think he likes too much to our supporters because he's crazy. I love him because he's a good guy. Next time it's better he keeps his shirt on [to stop him getting booked.] I joke when I say [he's crazy]. I love him like a guy. I know he is a good guy. I don't know what can happen with him in the future. He has everything to be a top player. If you improve the behaviour he can improve as a player."

Before the manager had finished his post-match analysis, he was positing the notion of Balotelli ascending the world elite. "I hope for him, for football, we arrive at the day when Mario has changed his mind because after this he becomes one of the best three players in the world, like Messi, like Cristiano Ronaldo."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?