Golden Boy award winner Balotelli says 'only Lionel Messi better than me'
Mario Balotelli claimed he is better than Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and Rafael Van der Vaart after receiving a leading Italian award.
The Manchester City striker won the Golden Boy award - organised by Italian newspaper Tuttosport to crown the best players in Europe under the age of 21 - with Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere in second and Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea in third.
And Balotelli insisted that, of the Golden Boy's previous winners, only Barcelona forward Lionel Messi could be considered a better player than him.
"There's only one that is a little stronger than me: Messi," he said. "All the others are behind me. I am delighted to receive the award, but who else would have won if not me?
"Two years ago I finished sixth and then fourth in 2009. Now it's my turn, no?
"My goal is, in the near future, to turn this award into the Ballon d'Or, without any age limits. Winning the Golden Boy is certainly a good omen."
Balotelli also admitted that he had never even heard of England international Wilshere.
"What's his name? Wil...? No, I just don’t know him, but the next time I play against Arsenal I'll try to be careful," Balotelli said. "Maybe I could show him the Golden Boy trophy and remind him that I won."
Balotelli also made no secret of his desire to return to Milan, but this time to play for boyhood club AC rather than former club Inter. However, he said he wants to win the title with City before he returns to Italy.
"For 2011 I want the Premier League - to continue the tradition with Inter that saw me win the last three championships - and the Europa League, a trophy I'm yet to win and that surely we are favourites for," he said.
"'I tell Ibra (AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic) to continue calling me to Milan, and one day we will fulfil the wish and I can play in the Rossoneri shirt."