Roberto Mancini sorry to see Mario Balotelli go

 

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will probably answer questions about Mario Balotelli for the last time as he meets media to preview Sunday's clash with Liverpool.

For the past two and a half years, Mancini's pre-match press conferences have regularly been dominated by talk of the controversial striker and his various misdemeanours.

That will soon no longer be the case after Mancini bade the 22-year-old a sad farewell earlier this week.

Balotelli is now an AC Milan player after completing a move reportedly worth £19million, rising to £22million.

Mancini worked hard to coax the best out of the enigmatic Italy international during his extraordinary, headline-grabbing spell at the Etihad Stadium but ultimately accepted a move was in everyone's interests.

"We are very sorry for him because he leaves the club but we hope Mario can continue to improve and continues to work hard because he is a top, top player," Mancini said.

Mancini will now attempt to draw a line under Balotelli's City career and look forward, starting with Liverpool's visit to the Barclays Premier League champions.

In truth - on recent evidence - Balotelli may not be greatly missed having scored just three goals all season, only one of them in the Premier League. He had also made only two substitute appearances since a dismal display in the derby loss to Manchester United on December 9.

Prior to Tuesday's goalless draw at QPR, City had been hitting their best form of the campaign with six successive wins in all competitions.

With no moves to sign a replacement for Balotelli before the transfer deadline, it is thought reserve striker John Guidetti could soon be promoted to the senior squad.

The 20-year-old Swede made a big impression on loan at Feyenoord last season but has missed most of this campaign with a leg injury caused by a virus.

He is now getting close to fitness and City reportedly turned down deadline-day approaches for the player from other clubs.

Meanwhile, Balotelli wasted little time settling into his new surroundings in Milan.

Balotelli formally signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Rossoneri in the morning and then made a goalscoring substitute appearance in a friendly against Darfo Boario.

Balotelli also had some kind words for his former club and manager.

He said: "I love Roberto. He has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me.

"Being at City was an important part of my life and career. I needed to grow up like a player and as a person and it has been a very good experience for me."

Mancini is also expected to update on the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany, who is likely to miss the Liverpool game with the calf strain suffered in last week's FA Cup win at Stoke.

City did do some activity on deadline day, signing 18-year-old Ghanaian striker Godsway Donyoh from his country's Right to Dream Academy and immediately loaning him to Swedish club Djurgarden.

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