Balotelli must 'sort out his head' or waste his career, says Eto'o

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The Independent Online

Manchester City will today seek to find some middle ground with Internazionale over the purchase of Mario Balotelli and then move to tie up a deal for Aston Villa's James Milner in what would conclude their transfer business this summer.

The new manager of the Serie A club, Rafael Benitez, dismissed suggestions that Balotelli's absence from the side which handed a 3-0 defeat to City in Baltimore on Saturday night was indicative of an impending deal. A groin strain had prevented the teenager from playing, the Spaniard said. "I don't know the transfer situation as I am only the coach of Inter," Benitez added.

City and Inter are some distance apart on the £25m the Italians are asking for Balotelli and the £3m-a-year salary the 19-year-old is seeking remains another impediment, with City uneasy about the message that kind of salary would send. But City are still hopeful and their manager Roberto Mancini is convinced he can develop the player despite his Inter team-mate Samuel Eto'o declaring yesterday that Balotelli must "sort some things out in his head".

Eto'o, who appears to believe the move to City is on the cards for the player, said: "The older players at Inter Milan have always tried to advise him. I am not sure how successfully but, if he is to be a success and not waste his career, he must listen to the players at Manchester City. This is the chance for a fresh start."

Suggestions yesterday that Emmanuel Adebayor has been told he can leave the club are wide of the mark. City have no plans to move for Liverpool's Fernando Torres unless they are offered some encouragement to do so and, as of last night, there had been none. A new £24m bid for Milner may also be forthcoming from City this week, though the club are expecting Milner to give some indication that he wants to move.

With Shay Given now likely to claim a starting position from the start of the season, having recuperated from shoulder surgery, Joe Hart has declared he would consider going out on loan again if he does not get regular first-team football.

Roberto Mancini was not present to see a disappointing display in Baltimore, having flown to Italy to be with his father Aldo, who has been seriously ill. He was spared the sight of Patrick Vieira being sent off after a clash with Marco Materazzi, before defensive problems helped Inter to run out comfortable winners. A deflection off Micah Richards and an own goal from Joleon Lescott delivered the Nerazzurri two goals before Cristiano Biraghi sealed the result.

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