After a month of rumors and back-and-forth haggling between clubs, Italian badboy Mario Balotelli will head to Milan, an official with the club announced.
Balotelli, whose 2 1/2 years at Manchester City alternated between outstanding and aggravating, will move to the Serie A club for about £17 million ($27 million), according to media reports. The amount is far less than the £30 million ($50 million) City demanded at the beginning of the January transfer window. Balotelli arrived from Inter Milan in August 2010 for about £22 million ($35 million).
Milan director Umberto Gandini took to Twitter to announce the deal.
“Transfer agreement for Balotelli signed with Manchester City,” stated Gandini. “Medicals tomorrow in Milan, then personal terms until 2017.” Media reports stated Balotelli would receive about €4.5 million ($6 million) in annual salary.
Balotelli’s transfer ends a month in which the striker, who frustrated City manager Roberto Mancini because of off-the-field problems, was called “a rotten apple” by Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi. It continued with Mancini insisting Balotelli would not leave: “We don’t have enough players; we are 18 players now and we can’t sell any players.” It now ends with Mancini accepting Balotelli’s desire to return to Italy.
The transfer means Balotelli will return to Champions League play. Manchester City, which won the EPL last season, shockingly finished fourth in its CL group and did not even drop into the Europa League. Milan has a final-16 pair with Barcelona in February and March.
Balotelli’s exit could force City to seek a replacement as it is thin on experienced strikers with just Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero heading the front.