Man City want Villa to replace Balotelli

David Villa is the name Manchester City have identified as the player to replace the departing Mario Balotelli, the Daily Mirror has reported, with the Premier League champions said to be keen to push through a move for the Barcelona striker before the transfer window closes on Thursday.

Balotelli is to join Italian club Milan in a transfer worth at least £17m, with more dependent on add-ons, while Villa could be available for around £15m. There had been interest in the Spain international from City’s domestic rivals Arsenal but it is understood the Gunners’ pursuit of the forward has come to an end.

The sale of Balotelli leaves Roberto Mancini down to three first team strikers – Edin Dzkeo, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero – rather than his preferred four, with the Mirror claiming City could try for a loan deal with Villa and then turn their attentions elsewhere in the summer. Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain is said by the newspaper to be top of the wanted list.

Villa has been at Barca since 2010, moving from Valencia shortly after helping Spain win their first ever World Cup. He has scored almost 50 goals for the Catalans, having been ruled out for a large chunk of last season after breaking his leg in the Club World Cup. This season however he has returned to fitness, hitting goals in double figures for La Liga’s leaders.

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