Premier League

Mancini hints probable Balotelli exit

Balotelli will serve a ban of at least three matches after his sending off versus Arsenal.
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Roberto Mancini admits he will "probably" sell Mario Balotelli this summer after the striker lost the plot again in Manchester City's costly Barclays Premier League defeat at Arsenal.

City boss Mancini also appeared to suggest Balotelli would not play again for him this season, although the club later claimed he said that because he expected the Football Association to throw the book at the controversial 21-year-old.

Balotelli will serve a ban of at least three matches after his sending off in Sunday afternoon's 1-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium and Mancini seemed to call on the FA to take further action against his own player for a knee-high challenge on Alex Song that went unpunished.

Asked for how long he he could put up with Balotelli's antics, Mancini said: "I am finished. We have six games and he will not play in the next six games."

Pushed further on whether he would try to sell Balotelli at the end of the season, Mancini replied: "Probably - but I don't know. It depends, because "But he can score also in the last minute."

Asked if the authorities should examine the incident with Song that referee Martin Atkinson and assistant Peter Kirkup took no action over, Mancini said "I hope so" and admitted the striker deserved a lengthy ban.

Mancini insisted he kept Balotelli on the pitch because he did not see the tackle on Song until after the game and defended his decision not to substitute him even after he had been booked for another bad challenge on Bacary Sagna.

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Mancini, who has known Balotelli since the forward was 17, added: "I love him as a guy, I love him as a player, because I know him.

"He's not a bad guy. He's a fantastic player.

"But, at this moment, I'm very sorry for him because he continues to lose his talent, his quality.

"I hope, for him, that he can understand that he's in a bad way for his future, and he can change his behaviour."

Jose Mourinho branded Balotelli - who has been at the centre of countless controversies during his career - "unmanageable" while Inter Milan boss and Mancini admitted he would agree if the player did not mend his ways.

But he defended his own handling of his fellow Italian, insisting he had "punished" the striker several times.

He said: "All the people who say I have different behaviour with Mario than the other players, it's not true, totally false, totally false."

Mancini admitted Balotelli had created "big problems" for his team-mates but joked the media would be happy for him to stay in the Premier League.

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"If Mario leaves England, what will you do?" he said.

"You should be happy if Mario stays here. You can write one, two or three pages in your newspapers!"

Mancini also admitted the defeat "probably" ended City's title hopes, with Manchester United having earlier opened up an eight-point gap.

He said: "United, in the last 12 games, have won 11 with one draw. They've done incredibly in the last two months.

"But, in football, it can change. Ten days ago, we were one point behind. Today, we are eight points. This can change also for them.

"Clearly, they have more experience than us, so probably it's difficult, but until it's impossible, we need to hope."

Mancini insisted he was "100 per cent" the right man to guide City to the title, pointing out the improvements he had made.

There was more bad news for the visitors, with Yaya Toure likely to miss Wednesday's match with West Brom after being forced off with a knee injury.

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