Roberto Mancini tonight admitted he would ‘probably’ sell Mario Balotelli this summer after the striker lost the plot again in Manchester City’s costly Barclays Premier League defeat at Arsenal. City boss Mancini also appeared to suggest Balotelli would not play again for him this season, although the club later claimed he said that because he expected the Football Association to throw the book at the controversial 21-year-old.
Balotelli will serve a ban of at least three matches after his sending off in this afternoon’s 1-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium and Mancini seemed to call on the FA to take further action against his own player for a knee-high challenge on Alex Song that went unpunished.
Asked for how long he he could put up with Balotelli’s antics, Mancini said: ‘I am finished. We have six games and he will not play in the next six games.’Pushed further on whether he would try to sell Balotelli at the end of the season, Mancini replied: ‘Probably – but I don’t know. It depends, because Balotelli is a fantastic player.’
‘I can continue to play with Mario on the pitch. Every time, we risk one sent off, like today.‘But he can score also in the last minute.’
Asked if the authorities should examine the incident with Song that referee Martin Atkinson and assistant Peter Kirkup took no action over, Mancini said ‘I hope so’ and admitted the striker deserved a lengthy ban.
Mancini insisted he kept Balotelli on the pitch because he did not see the tackle on Song until after the game and defended his decision not to substitute him even after he had been booked for another bad challenge on Bacary Sagna.
Mancini, who has known Balotelli since the forward was 17, added: ‘I love him as a guy, I love him as a player, because I know him.‘He’s not a bad guy. He’s a fantastic player.’But, at this moment, I’m very sorry for him because he continues to lose his talent, his quality.
‘I hope, for him, that he can understand that he’s in a bad way for his future, and he can change his behaviour.’