Mario Balotelli
'Bad apple' Mario Balotelli has been criticised by Silvio BerlusconiGetty

AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has described Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli as a "bad apple" who he never wanted to bring to the Rossoneri.

Balotelli, 24, returned to the Premier League this summer after just 18 months back in Serie A despite finishing as the club's top scorer in his only full season at Milan.

After finishing in a dismal eighth place last season, Milan initially appeared determined to hold on to Balotelli in an effort to strengthen their aim to restore the club back among the country's elite.

But Berlusconi has revealed he was desperate to see the back of the former Manchester City star and believes Milan are far better off without him.

"I remember he was bought against my advice," Berlusconi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "We have many champions. [Jeremy] Menez, [Keisuke] Honda, [Stephen] El Shaarawy, [Fernando] Torres, [Nigel] de Jong...

"The base is there. And we no longer have a rotten apple in the dressing room."

The new-look Milan have enjoyed a modest start to the 2014/15 campaign and currently sit in fifth place, six points off leaders Juventus who have a flawless record of six wins from their first six games.

After missing out last season, the club's priority this term to reclaim a European spot and Berlusconi is hopeful Milan can be a major force in the Champions League by the 2016 final, which will be held at the San Siro.

"It is too early to give a vote on the team but I think we can give a more complete assessment from January onwards," Berlusconi said.

"Our goal is to return to Europe. We want to build a winning side. I think there are cycles in football with years of success, then breaks, then back to winning. But the fans should rest assured – the team is already competitive and we will soon be leaders in Europe again.

"The 2016 Champions League final is in Milan. Why shouldn't we dream of being there?"