Balotelli going nowhere - Mancini
Roberto Mancini has again insisted Mario Balotelli will not be leaving Premier League champions Manchester City despite persistent speculation linking him with AC Milan.
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9. Mario Balotelli
Various comments from figures at the San Siro, as well as numerous other reports from Italy, continue to suggest Balotelli could be heading back to his homeland before next week's transfer deadline.
But City boss Mancini has always maintained he is happy with the 22-year-old striker, despite a number of controversies, including a training-ground bust-up this month, and has no intention of selling.
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, who has issued regular statements about Balotelli, this week suggested a move was off because of City's reportedly high valuation of £28million. But that has merely led to fresh speculation that Milan now want to sign the Italy international on loan.
When asked about these latest reports, Mancini said at a press conference: "For two years, the first question always Mario!
"No, it is not true, Mario stays here. We didn't have any requests about Mario or other players."
Mancini also insisted the mercurial forward remains a big part of his plans.
He said: "Yes, Mario has another three years on his contract."
Mancini was asked if all the rumours coming out of Italy could be having an unsettling effect on Balotelli.
The 48-year-old suggested it was now part of his everyday life.
He said: "With Mario - every day we talk for everything. Sometimes there is some speculation about Mario."
Mancini is not anticipating much, if any, activity in the closing days of the transfer window.
He said: "I don't know but we don't have enough players. We are 18 players now, we can't sell any players."
When asked if that meant he might look to recruit, he said: "I think it is difficult."
Mancini's main concern this week his side's FA Cup fourth-round trip to Stoke.
City have an impressive home record against the Potters - and have won the last three meetings at the Etihad Stadium 3-0 - but it is a different story away.
City have not won in their last six visits to the Britannia Stadium and their last victory in the Potteries came in 1999.
Mancini said: "I think it is not only for us. Every team that goes to the Britannia has a problem because Stoke at home is strong - play well, physical, set-pieces.
"There the pitch is smaller than the Etihad Stadium and probably they have a different approach to the game.
"There are sometimes some squads that play very strong at home and away are different. Stoke are like this.
"But the last two years we played well and had a lot of chances to win and were really unlucky."
Stoke have been familiar opponents for Mancini in the FA Cup.
In the Italian's first season in charge City were taken to a replay by Tony Pulis' men in the fifth round and beaten 3-1 at the Britannia after extra time.
That was a defeat Mancini avenged at Wembley the following year, 2011, as City won the final to claim their epoch-making first trophy since Sheikh Mansour's 2008 takeover.
Mancini said: "I have good memories, it was a fantastic moment.
"To win a trophy after 35 years was very important for us because we worked hard and also for the club and our supporters.
"We wanted to win that final, to start to win and it was an important moment for us.
"We want to try to do this every year if it is possible.
"We have the FA Cup and Premier League this year and we want to try to win. It is important for us to win every year."
City's development continued last year as their title win was followed by the arrival of former Barcelona directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain as chief executive and director of football respectively.
The pair are attempting to steer the club to a prosperous future on and off the pitch but Mancini has been dismissive of a report suggesting Begiristain wants the team to operate in a fluid 4-3-3 system.
Barcelona enjoyed conspicuous success playing in such a style but, while an admirer, Mancini does not think merely copying would necessarily be successful.
He said: "I speak with Txiki every day and he never told me this. We have the same thoughts about football.
"I don't think it is more important to play 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 4-1-5 - it is more important to have good players.
"Everyone wants to play like Barca, but Barca is one, like Real Madrid or AC Milan.
"It is impossible to play like Barca but I think that you can win also if you play a different style."