Mario Balotelli vows to fight on at Manchester City until 2015
Mario Balotelli does not want to leave Manchester City, despite a struggle to make a lasting impact at the club, which saw him dropped from the squad for Sunday's win over Tottenham.
After his outstanding European Championship with Italy, Balotelli has started only six games this season, with his contribution in the 2-2 draw at Anfield in August the only one which could be considered a big game for the club. His continued struggle to prove the doubters wrong led to weekend reports that he may be destined to head back to Milan, with Internazionale and Milan said to be interested and unlikely to blanch at a £20m price tag.
But the 22-year-old's agent, Mino Raiola, said yesterday that the striker wanted to see out his contract, which expires in June 2015 and retained a belief that he could establish himself at City, despite Edin Dzeko's emergence which has pushed him to fourth in the pecking order.
"There's no Italy and no plans to go there," said Raiola. "He'll work until the end of his contract. He doesn't want to leave." Of Mancini's decision to drop Balotelli from the entire squad, Raiola said: "There's no player happy with not playing in a game but he accepts it. It's all part of the game. It doesn't mean he wants to leave Manchester."
Balotelli is yet to score in the Premier League for City in this campaign, and his only goal in open play came in the 4-2 home defeat to Aston Villa, in the Capital One Cup. It is not what he had expected when he proved to be one of the surprises of this summer's championship in Poland and Ukraine, scoring two superb goals in his national team's 2-1 triumph over Germany in the semi-finals.
Joe Hart said he wants no comparisons with Manchester United, despite City's ability to come from behind in games, like they did on Sunday, reflecting United's ability to do the same. City have come from behind to win four times this season, to United's eight in all competitions. "That's what they [United] do. We're our own team now," Hart said. "We're developing a real identity."
Neither would the goalkeeper say that recoveries like on Sunday – when City trailed Spurs with 25 minutes to go – instilled belief in the side. "I think we've got that belief anyway," Hart said. "With the quality and the spirit, we're not here for anything else other than to win. We don't turn up to tick boxes or make people happy."
Hart agreed that winning when things were not going their way was a sign of being champions. "Of course, that's the only way you're going to win things because people are snapping at your heels, so you have to win regardless of how you play."