Balotelli on the brink at City after furious spat with Mancini
Published 03/01/2013 | 14:08
MARIO Balotelli's Manchester City future has been thrown into doubt after pictures emerged of what appeared to be a furious training-ground bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini.
It is reported Mancini stepped in after Balotelli went in too strongly on team-mate Scott Sinclair for the City boss' liking.
Balotelli is reported to have taken exception to Mancini's intervention, leading to the pair having to be pulled apart.
In the sequence of pictures, Mancini is seen striding towards Balotelli, pointing in an aggressive manner.
He is then seen to grab hold of Balotelli's orange bib in an apparent act of fury before the young striker is dragged away by a member of City's coaching staff.
A short time later, Balotelli is believed to have left the training ground at Carrington, on the outskirts of Manchester.
Whilst it is not the first furious argument Balotelli and Mancini have had, the pair have exchanged words both on the training ground and in matches, it does come in a period where the City manager's faith in the striker is beginning to wane.
Even last season, when Balotelli's dismissal at Arsenal in April led to Mancini declaring he might never play for the club again, there was always a thought he would eventually come good.
After providing the pass for Sergio Aguero's last-gasp title-winning goal against QPR the following month, Balotelli went on to enjoy a superb Euro 2012, which his performance in Italy's semi-final win over Germany in Warsaw widely accepted as one of the best individual displays of the entire tournament.
Yet a lacklustre performance in the final has been followed by some inept contributions for City, including against Manchester United last month when he was surprisingly preferred to Carlos Tevez.
Mancini responded to that display by warning Balotelli he risked wasting his considerable talent by failing to devote enough time to his career.
Balotelli has not played since, partly due to Mancini's own selection decisions but also a slight virus.
Although City have previously stated they will not sell the 22-year-old during the present transfer window, today's development may well make the Blues think again should any club lodge a substantial enough bid.