Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini insists he has no problem with Mario Balotelli's liking for stirring controversy.
The outspoken Balotelli was at it again this week, declaring in an interview with new Italian newspaper Extra Time, that he was part of the best strike force in the world and that Wayne Rooney was not even the number one forward in Manchester.
Maybe it was not the wisest comment from a player who is again sidelined with a knee injury.
But Mancini remains unconcerned.
"I haven't read the interview so I don't know what he has said. But he likes to joke sometimes and these things are jokes.
"We live in a free world. If someone wants to say something, it is better that he does. I respect every opinion.
"We are not in a war. We are free to say what we want."
Balotelli is currently in the United States stepping up his rehabilitation work on the injury he sustained over Christmas.
It could be another month before the Italian is in action again, when Mancini would like to see him perform to his potential on a regular basis.
"He is continuing to work and maybe he can come back to play in three or four weeks," he said.
"It is important he shows his talent here. For his future it is important for him to improve and this is the best championship in the world."
Meanwhile, Mancini reported there had been no progress with any of the potential departures from Eastlands this month.
Balotelli's impending return to fitness does make it more likely Emmanuel Adebayor will leave.
But a number of English options are unlikely to hold much appeal for the former Arsenal star and Real Madrid remain the most likely destination, with coach Jose Mourinho apparently keen for Adebayor to replace Gonzalo Higuain, who could miss the remainder of the season following back surgery.
Fulham have also expressed definite interest in Shaun Wright-Phillips, although City are looking to ensure there is some commitment to a permanent transfer before they will allow the winger to link up again with old boss Mark Hughes.
Brazilian striker Jo has also attracted interest from Birmingham, although with Alex McLeish only looking for a loan deal that move would appear to be a non-starter.
"We have another 10 days," said Mancini.
"It is possible something could happen but at the moment there has been no progress."
The City boss did not entirely rule out the possibility of further purchases, even though club officials have cautioned against it.
However, Mancini has ruled out an imminent move for 17-year-old Anderlecht sensation Romelu Lukaku.
"Lukaku is a good player and he is young," said Mancini.
"Maybe in the future something will happen but at this moment, no."Reuse content