Balotelli in training ground bust-up with Richards
Mario Balotelli, the controversial Italian who seems incapable of staying out of trouble, was involved in an angry confrontation with team-mate Micah Richards at Manchester City's training ground yesterday.
Balotelli and Richards had to be kept apart by fellow City players after clashing during a training game ahead of the club's Premier League game against Arsenal on Sunday.
The bust-up between a pair of players who are normally good friends appeared to be provoked by a misplaced pass during the session. That prompted an exchange of insults and it took the intervention of several other players and then manager Roberto Mancini to defuse the situation.
James Milner and Yaya Toure had to restrain an irate Richards, while captain Vincent Kompany sought to calm Balotelli.
Richards (23) later insisted via Twitter that there was no problem between him and the Italian. Richards wrote: "Me and Mario are all good! These things happen in training and we shook hands after. It shows passion!"
Manchester City stressed it was the kind of flare-up which regularly occurs during training sessions at all Premier League clubs and neither player is likely to face any disciplinary action.
But it is the latest in a lengthening list of misdemeanours from Balotelli, who is currently staying in a hotel in Manchester city centre after a fire at his house which was started when a firework went off in one of the bathrooms.
Balotelli insisted he had not been responsible, and that the firework had been let off by a friend.
City's training ground at Carrington is surrounded by a public footpath, making their sessions far more accessible to the public than their Premier League rivals.
That has led to a series of embarrassing pictures being taken of outbreaks of violence between players. Balotelli himself was involved in two confrontations last season, one with Vincent Kompany and another with Jerome Boateng, who has since moved to Bayern Munich.
City are currently building a £100m training complex which will afford them the same privacy as other top clubs and also have plans to build a fence around their current base.
Mancini is determined to nurture Balotelli into one of the world's leading centre forwards, but has acknowledged how difficult he can be to handle.
Asked whether he would have to think about leaving Balotelli out of City's bigger matches in the future, he replied: "Maybe. Against Liverpool I had Edin (Dzeko) and Mario on the bench. I thought Mario was good because we wanted to win and had only one striker on the pitch.
"But if I had put on Edin we would have kept 11 players on the pitch. This wouldn't have happened with Edin." (© Daily Telegraph, London)