Balotelli: I ran to Milan
Mario Balotelli has admitted that he 'ran to Milan' as he prepares to complete the formalities of his return to Italy from Premier League champions Manchester City.
- Related Content
The 22-year-old arrived in the Italian city on Wednesday afternoon and was later swamped by a crowd of reporters, photographers and fans as he was taken to a clinic to undergo a medical.
The controversial striker was then expected to meet club officials, including president Silvio Berlusconi, and sign a four-and-a-half-year deal.
There had been no official confirmation from the Serie A club that the contract had been formally signed by the evening, but that did not stop their website publishing photographs of the player wearing a Rossoneri scarf.
He was also presented with a team shirt bearing his name and his squad number 45 - the same number he wore at first club Inter Milan and at City.
Balotelli also briefly spoke to the Milan Channel after landing at the city's Malpensa Airport, saying: "I'd wanted to play for Milan for such a long time.
"Obviously I played for other teams and couldn't come. But when there was the chance, I ran."
It was also revealed on the club's website, www.acmilan.com, that Milan vice-president and chief executive Adriano Galliani accompanied him on the flight from England, which had been delayed by several hours.
Galliani said: "I certainly do not have to introduce Mario Balotelli.
"It is a dream come true and something that we all wanted, with the president Silvio Berlusconi at the forefront.
"With the arrival of Mario, we have strengthened our team a lot.
"We have worked so hard and Mario has been in our hearts for a long time and finally we have succeeded in signing him."
Balotelli had been linked with Milan since the transfer window opened at the start of the month with both Galliani and Berlusconi regularly speaking about the player.
It seemed City's valuation of Balotelli might have been a problem but the clubs are reported to have agreed a price of around £19million, rising to £22million.
That leaves City just short of the £24million they paid Milan's arch rivals Inter in August 2010.
Not all the comments about Balotelli from Milan were positive, with Berlusconi describing him as a "rotten apple" earlier this month.
But that remark was retracted and did not seem an issue as Balotelli took a call from the president during his medical.
It remains to be seen whether Balotelli will be available to play in Sunday's game against Udinese at the San Siro.
He has actually played little football in the past two months, making only two substitute appearances since a dismal performance in the derby against Manchester United on December 9 due to a combination of selection issues and illness.
During that time he also threatened to take City to a Premier League tribunal in a dispute over a club fine, only to drop the challenge, and had a training-ground bust-up with manager Roberto Mancini.
They were not merely the latest in a long line of off-field controversies during his time at the Etihad Stadium, but also the ones which finally hastened his exit.
He leaves City after scoring 30 goals in 80 appearances and after helping the club win the FA Cup and Premier League title.
His contribution was not insignificant but he will be equally well remembered for his four red cards, clashes with team-mates, brushes with discipline and other misdemeanours.
Even Mancini, who afforded his former Inter protege great latitude, felt the time was right for a change.
Speaking after Tuesday's game at QPR, Mancini, with a heavy heart, said: "It is difficult because I lost one important striker and that could be important in the next 14 games.
"But it is important for Mario - to be back in Italy, back with his family and to play for Milan.
"This is for Mario because we love Mario and he deserves to have this chance."