Patrick Vieira defends troubled Mario Balotelli

Patrick Vieira has urged Mario Balotelli's army of critics to cut him some slack.

Balotelli has still not been a Manchester City player for 12 months but his list of misdemeanours already extends further than most players manage in an entire career.

The Italian striker was lambasted by his own manager, Roberto Mancini, for showboating during a pre-season game in Los Angeles last month and Gary Neville branded his efforts during Sunday's Community Shield "an embarrassment".

Few would argue Balotelli has not made mistakes.

However, Vieira believes it is worth remembering the former Inter Milan star doesn't celebrate his 21st birthday until tomorrow.

And he is convinced it won't be long before Balotelli is channelling his energies into a wholly positive contribution.

"People forget how young Mario really is," said the former City midfielder, who retired this summer to take up an ambassadorial role with the club.

"He is a really young boy. He will make mistakes. I made a few in my career.

"Hopefully this year he will learn from them.

"Mario is a really talented footballer and I hope he can show everybody how good he is."

Balotelli might have more competition for first-team places soon too.

Although City are maintaining a discreet silence over their interest in Samir Nasri, discussions behind the scenes are believed to be ongoing and it would be a major surprise if the France midfielder did not arrive at the Etihad Stadium before September 1.

France coach Laurent Blanc said before his country's midweek international with Chile that Nasri would benefit from having his future resolved and a lacklustre performance in Montpellier before he was substituted merely strengthened that belief.

Nasri would become Mancini's fifth summer signing. The fourth, Romanian keeper Costel Pantilimon had his work permit granted today but the third and most expensive, £38million record signing Sergio Aguero, is yet to play for his new club after spending all Sunday's Wembley defeat on the bench.

Still, Vieira is certain Aguero can have a major impact for the Blues this season.

"He has been really good so far," said Vieira.

"It was a shame that he could not play in the Community Shield but he is a big asset.

"His pedigree is really good and he can bring a lot to the football club."

Mancini still has issues to resolve, not least what to do with Carlos Tevez, who has returned to training but still hopes to leave before the transfer window closes.

It is anticipated Tevez will feature in Monday night's opener with Swansea, although under the circumstances, it is difficult to see how he can be retained as captain.

Still, Vieira does not believe that uncertainty, or the alarming manner of City losing a two-goal lead to Manchester United last weekend, should detract from a season of promise.

"We can win the title," he said.

"We have improved since last year. Winning the FA Cup and finishing third has given us the belief.

"We believe we can challenge Chelsea, Manchester United and the rest of the teams to lift the championship."

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

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower