After its owner called him “a rotten apple,” an AC Milan official said the club is interested in returning Mario Balotelli to Serie A, but not at the price set by Manchester City.
Milan vice president Adriano Galliani told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday the Italian club wants Balotelli, but said City must reduce its £31 million ($50 million) transfer-fee demand. Galliani said representatives with the clubs discussed a possible transfer on Friday but could not come to an agreement.
“At the end of Friday, Manchester City still said 37 million euros,” said Galliani. “We will see on Monday. Under these circumstances, he will remain at Manchester City.”
Balotelli has had a sometimes strained relationship with his manager, Roberto Mancini, who brought the Italian international striker to City in 2010 after having managed him at Serie A side Inter Milan. Balotelli joined Inter as a 17-year-old in 2007 and scored 20 goals in 59 matches there while being subjected to severe racial abuse by the Italian fans.
Mancini and Balotelli’s relationship has been troubled because of problems such as training-ground incidents, match form and occasional harsh play. He also has had to face high scrutiny from outside the club because of his troubles, to which he occasionally referred to himself as a victim. All of this led to Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi recently calling Balotelli “a bad apple.”
Even through the off-the-field problems, Balotelli has given the Premier League side key moments, including his assist on Sergio Aguero‘s last-minute goal against Queens Park Rangers that won the EPL last season. But while Balotelli has scored 20 goals for City during his two and a half years with the club, the problems have led to him playing in just 54 league matches. Some of his appearances have been as a late substitution, as occurred Jan. 13 when he played only one minute against Arsenal.
While at Inter, Balotelli aroused the ire of fans when he appeared in a March 2010 television show wearing a Milan jersey. A transfer to Milan would allow Balotelli to join what he said was his boyhood team.