Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Balotelli close to City switch

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli's agent is "very confident" the Inter Milan striker will shortly join Manchester City after moving an important step forwards in discussions on Thursday.

Balotelli has long been linked with a move to City, where boss Roberto Mancini is keen to be reunited with the youngster he snapped up as Inter coach in 2006.

The Italy forward's agent Mino Raiola believes a deal could go through on Friday, although he admits it is unlikely Balotelli will feature in City's opener against Tottenham on Saturday.

"Today, there was a step forwards, I can confirm that," Raiola told Sky Italia on Thursday. "So I am very confident about closing the deal soon but it doesn't just depend on me." Raiola added: "Will he play on Saturday against Tottenham? Look, at this point I would say no. Even if we close the deal tomorrow he wouldn't be able to do it, because of all the paperwork.

"Then the English laws impose details that would exclude his presence as early as Saturday.

"I am very optimistic, but today the deal is not already done. We haven't decided yet if Mario will go to England tomorrow, we need to think about that, but we haven't established that."

The news that the deal is all but done caps a great week for Balotelli, who made his Italy debut on Monday.

Raiola believes the young forward, who turned 20 today, could make his first appearance for City on August 23 against Liverpool.

"I don't know if he will be there," continued Raiola. "For me it would be perfect, but it doesn't just depend on me.

"Nothing is yet sealed so I can't guarantee that. Our aim is to close everything as soon as possible, we hope to be able to resolve the factors soon."

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