Mario Balotelli not surprised Manchester City sacked Roberto Mancini

The pair were close during their time together at the Etihad Stadium

Mario Balotelli is not surprised that Roberto Mancini was sacked by Manchester City because of internal problems between his former manager and the club.

Balotelli, who was signed by Mancini for City before being sold to AC Milan in January, insisted his fellow Italian is a "great manager".

Mancini was sacked by City on Monday after his team failed to meet targets laid down by the owners and is expected to be succeeded by Manuel Pellegrini, currently at Malaga.

Asked about Mancini being sacked, Balotelli told CNN: "I am not really surprised but when I was with him he was a great manager and we had one of the best teams I have played with, the best players.

"I don't know why they didn't win. But obviously there were some problems inside. I am here [Milan] so I don't know."

City said on Monday that Mancini had been sacked after failing to meet all "stated targets" apart from qualifying for next season's Champions League.

The club added: "This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013-14 season and beyond."

Reports in Spain today said Malaga have opened the way for Pellegrini, whose representatives have already held talks with City, to move on at the end of the season.

The Malaga Hoy newspaper said the Qatari-owned Spanish club has waived the release fee in the Chilean's contract which would allow him to leave when it expires on July 1, and that he has already agreed a two-year deal with City.

However the club are unlikely to announce any appointment before next week's short end-of-season tour to the USA where Brian Kidd will remain in charge of the team.

A Malaga spokesman told the BBC no announcement would be made until the club's domestic season was concluded.

He said: "There remain some fixtures to qualify for the Europa League, so in this moment, officially, we are not saying anything.

"The club has not communicated anything about this. I am not saying [the article] is true or false, I am just saying that the club officially has not said anything.

"I think that other clubs, Manchester City or whatever other club, have finished their season but Malaga has not finished their season."

Meanwhile, it is understood City are continuing to monitor Napoli's striker Edinson Cavani despite the Uruguayan being linked with both Paris St Germain and Chelsea.

Cavani will not come cheap - a fee of 50million euros (£42million) is needed to trigger the release clause in his contract with the Serie A club.

PA

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