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Mario Balotelli, left, has been hailed as the best Italian striker by Roberto Mancini. Peter Powell / EPA
Mario Balotelli, left, has been hailed as the best Italian striker by Roberto Mancini. Peter Powell / EPA

Mario Balotelli to stay at Manchester City says Roberto Mancini

Manager quashes speculation striker will leave Premier League side for AC Milan.

Roberto Mancini, the Manchester City manager, has declared Mario Balotelli is staying at the club.

The striker has been linked with a move away from the newly-crowned Premier League champions, Mancini admitting after his sending off in last month's defeat at Arsenal he would "probably" sell him.

Reports in Italy have suggested Balotelli could head to AC Milan this summer in a swap deal which would bring Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the Etihad, but Mancini insisted he was going nowhere.

"Ibra is a great player but I don't think Milan want to sell him," Mancini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I'm going to be honest, we haven't looked at the market yet. In the last five weeks our only focus has been the league.

"Mario has been very clear and I reiterate: Balotelli will remain at Manchester 101 per cent."

Balotelli, who set up Sergio Aguero for the 94th-minute winner against QPR which earned City their first league title since 1968 on Sunday, has been included in Italy's preliminary squad for the Euro 2012.

"I am confident he will have a great European championship," Mancini said. "I hope Mario will be the leader of the national team because he is the best Italian striker.

"He just needs to make his brain work. That is his only problem."

Balotelli joined City from Inter Milan in August 2010 and is under contract until June 2015.

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