Premier League

Big things expected from Balotelli

Manchester City's Italian forward Mario Balotelli (R) speaks with Ivory Coast footballer Kolo Toure
Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli (R) speaks with teammate Yaya Toure.
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Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure is confident team-mate Mario Balotelli is destined to be one of the top strikers in English football, despite the Italy international's ineffective showing at the weekend.

Balotelli endured a frustrating time of it after being named in City's starting XI for Sunday's Barclays Premier League derby clash with Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium, struggling to make an impact and being taken off early in the second half of the contest, which the visitors eventually won 3-2.

The 22-year-old forward has had plenty of ups and downs since joining City in 2010 and looked a dejected figure at the end of this latest chapter in his Blues career, reacting to being substituted by heading straight down the tunnel.

His future appears to lie with City, though, with manager Roberto Mancini insisting the player is not for sale.

And Toure is convinced that, despite all Balotelli's stormy moments, it will be a bright future.

"Mario is an unbelievable player, but sometimes he can be angry with himself," said Toure, quoted on the Manchester Evening News website.

"All players need to improve, and I talk all the time with Mario.

"This year especially he has been working hard in training, and improving well, but sometimes in the game you can get so disappointed when you lose small things.

"But he has fantastic character, and I know he will be one of the top strikers in the Premier League."

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