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Balotelli arrival puts heat on city outcasts

A dizzying array of transfer moves has Manchester City's revolving door spinning at the moment.

Midfielder James Milner's protacted transfer from Aston Villa looks to be completed as Stephen Ireland heads the other way, while the arrival of striker Mario Balotelli has seen the departure of Craig Bellamy -- and the indications are that Roque Santa Cruz could be the next striker to go.

Manager Roberto Mancini confirmed that if Balotelli's registration is sealed by midnight tonight then Santa Cruz will exit City's Europa League squad.

It could be the beginning of the end for the Paraguay international, with City about to start their European campaign in Romania against Timisoara tomorrow.

Balotelli still faces competition for a place in the starting line-up with Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robinho all on board.

But the 20-year-old is keen to mix it right away after arriving from Inter Milan last week when he sealed a five-year deal. He said: "I came here to play all the games and I will do my best to be in the team every week.

"Of course this is the time to mature. But mistakes can always occur. I'm still young, I am not old."

On the day Balotelli was officially unveiled to the media, Milner's long-expected transfer was taking shape. Ireland is going the other way to Villa Park, and that part-exchange deal, worth around £26million, should be finalised now, with the Corkman receiving a £1.5m golden handshake.

And on another frantic day of transfer activity at the club, Bellamy stepped down a division to join hometown team Cardiff on a season-long loan.

Bellamy and Ireland may not be the last two out of the Eastlands revolving door, as goalkeeper Shay Given could also be leaving after being unhappy at losing his place to Joe Hart.

Mancini said: "I hope he (Given) will stay with us because we are in four competitions. But I respect his wishes if he wants to leave."

Balotelli insisted City were always top of his wish list. He said: "I am happy to be here at Manchester City because of the manager and the environment. I was sorry to leave my family and friends behind in Italy but not for professional reasons.

"I decided I wanted to leave Inter after the Champions League tie against Barcelona. Every day the papers were full of stories and it became very difficult to live in Milan.

"That's when I told my agent I wanted to leave and find me another club. I had no real problems with my team-mates but there were outside influences that persuaded me to leave."

Balotelli admitted he had been targeted by racists but does not expect the problem to continue in his new surroundings.

He said: "As far as I know there is no racism in English football. There were two or three incidents in Italy that were quite bad. It was very unfortunate and I hope it does not happen again.

"It was something that really bothered me. It was a really bad thing but I have learned how to deal with it. That is to pretend it does not hurt but it is something very bad."


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