Working with Mario Balotelli would be 'stimulating' says Napoli manager
Manchester City striker has been linked with a return to Italy
Napoli head coach Walter Mazzarri described the challenge of working with Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli as “stimulating”, amid reports of a possible approach from the Serie A club.
Azzurri president Aurelio De Laurentiis has admitted he would be interested in bringing the unsettled 22-year-old to the San Paolo as a strike partner for Edinson Cavani, or as a possible makeweight should City make a bid for the free-scoring Uruguayan.
AC Milan appeared to distance themselves from a rival approach for the Italy international when president Silvio Berlusconi described Balotelli as a "rotten apple", but Mazzarri is confident he could tame the capricious striker.
Quoted in La Repubblica, he told Radio Monte Carlo: "I do not know him personally. I spoke to him once a few years ago at a hotel in Sorrento.
"He made a good impression on me but only those who know him well can say what kind of problems he might create in training.
"I've got a bit of experience, though, and it would be stimulating to work with a talent like his, but I don't know if that would ever happen."
Azzurri president De Laurentiis had told Gazzetta.it: "Are City considering letting Balotelli go so they can move for Cavani?
"I would prefer to see Balotelli playing with Cavani here at Napoli.
"Teams tend to hold on to their best players in January. You take a big risk making big investments now.
"There is still time for us to bring in new faces but we must be cautious. On January 31 you will see what moves Napoli have made."
Milan had previously been mooted as Balotelli's likely destination, with the Rossoneri appearing to free up the necessary funds and space in their squad with the 15million euro sale of Alexandre Pato to Corinthians, but Berlusconi told reporters at the FIFA Ballon d'Or gala in Zurich that any approach was unlikely.
"The name of Balotelli never came into my thoughts, he is a rotten apple and could infect every group where he goes, even Milan," the former Italian prime minister said.
Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola responded through Sport Mediaset, saying: "Mario and I are saddened by what Berlusconi said.
"Berlusconi doesn't know him, everyone who does know him loves him. (Milan vice-president) Adriano Galliani knows him and loves him.
"If someone asks me to introduce Mario to Berlusconi then I will do so with pleasure."
Balotelli has been linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium following a number of high profile incidents since he arrive in England from Inter Milan.
The latest occurred last Thursday, when he was pictured grappling with City boss Roberto Mancini.
Latest in Sport
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
Match reports from every Premier League game: Heartbreak for Tottenham as Arsenal clinch fourth place
Arsène Wenger: 'We need stability and to strengthen in the summer'
Rafael Nadal is the Master again in Rome – like a Ferrari to Roger Federer's Fiat
Sam Wallace: The second coming of Mourinho will be a reunion that can only end in tears
James Lawton: For all Arsenal's dreams and prettiness there must be nagging sense of futility
- 1 Asteroid nine times the size of the QE2 liner to sail pass Earth
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 British business: We need to stay in the EU - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
- 4 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.