Balotelli ‘targeted’ while at City says Mancini

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has explained that Mario Balotelli’s departure in January was as a result of the striker becoming unhappy in England, partly due to the negative press he regularly attracted, the Corriere dello Sport has reported.

In an interview Mancini, who was sacked in May after a trophy-less third full season in charge of City, likened Balotelli to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, stating: “For a while I had seen that he wasn’t happy in England anymore. He, like Suarez, was targeted by opponents, referees, by the public. Of course, he didn’t help himself to avoid certain situations.”

Balotelli’s often poor discipline on the pitch, picking up several red cards, and his activities outside of football during his time with City, received considerable media coverage, often overshadowing his more impressive contributions. The relationship between Mancini and Balotelli was occasionally strained, with the pair having a training ground bust-up in January.

Shortly after, Italian international Balotelli joined AC Milan. The 22-year-old settled quickly, scoring 12 goals in 13 Serie A appearances. He later told CNN that he was happy to have left England and returned to Italy, saying that he had been ‘unfairly treated’ by the media.

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