Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli may be on his way out of the club, if reports regarding former club Inter Milan's interest are accurate. The 22-year-old Italian international seems to have lost the favour and backing of his manager, Roberto Mancini, and is now fourth-choice at the Etihad, behind the Argentine pair of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Agüero and Bosnian international Edin Dzeko.
The Mirror reports the Premier League champions were aware of Inter scouts at the stadium during the 2-2 midweek Champions League group stage draw against Ajax, and the Serie A club's sporting director, Piero Ausilio, has now formally opened talks with the Etihad club. Balotelli left the Giuseppe Meazza in the summer of 2010, after protracted negotiations, for a fee believed to be in the region of £23m.
Balotelli, a famously temperamental striker, is an undoubted talent, and was in sublime form in the summer's European Championships, scoring two goals in the semi-final against Germany. However, the youngster has had a poor start to this season and has only two goals in 14 appearances for the club. Bosnia's Edin Dzeko, who was rumoured to be leaving the club in the summer because of a lack of playing time, has made his way past the Italian in Mancini's plans for the season.
Reports of interest in Balotelli have yet to be officially confirmed by Inter. However, a second set of reports, stating new director of football Txiki Beigiristain has told Mancini he will have to trim his squad to fund any further recruitment, makes Balotelli's departure more likely. Mancini is known to be fond of the forward but even he may look favourably on the sale, given recent results. Inter's stadium rivals, AC Milan, are also interested in Balotelli, who earlier acknowledged a fondness for the Rossoneri.
There was also interest in Balotelli from Ligue 1 side Paris St Germain (PSG) in the summer and the French club reportedly made a £40m bid for his services. That was turned down then but should they return with a similar offer, Mancini may be ready to talk. However, this is highly unlikely because they have since signed Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Milan and will welcome another mega-money acquisition in Brazilian youngster Lucas Moura in the January transfer window.
Mancini's main targets are believed to be Santos' Brazilian star Neymar, Napoli's Edinson Cavani and Roma's Daniele De Rossi, all of whom will command large transfer fees and huge salaries.
A Pregnant Girlfriend
Balotelli may also have a personal reason for wanting to return to Italy. A tempestuous relationship notwithstanding, Balotelli and his girlfriend, Italian model Raffaella Fico, are expecting their first child together. As a sign of his commitment, the striker is building a £750,000 apartment for Fico, in Brescia... barely 100km (an hour's drive) from Milan. A return to Italy would therefore be a good chance to start a stable family life.
Meanwhile, City prepare to host Tottenham, in a Premier League fixture. Balotelli is fit and ready to play and it will be interesting to see if he does get a start, or even playing time.