Mario's going nowhere, the Sheikh loves him too much, insists City boss Mancini
10:47 GMT, 31 December 2012
Roberto Mancini insists Mario Balotelli will not be sold by Manchester City – and claims owner Sheikh Mansour loves the Italian firebrand.
The controversial striker has failed to impress for the Premier League champions this season – scoring just one league goal- and continues to be dogged by disciplinary problems.
But Mancini remains defiant in his support of Balotelli – but has warned him to clean up his act.
Joker of the pack: Mario Balotelli (centre) has disappointed this season
'I think Mario will stay but the future depends mostly on him,' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
'Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world.
'We need to consider that Mario was made as a major investment, and this is not a club that throws its capital through the window.'
Controversy: Balotelli stormed off after being replaced against Sunderland
Mancini admitted he has taken the 22-year-old to task in light of his performances on and off the field.
'The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something,' he added.
'I love him because for many years we live together. I've seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I've told Mario what I need from him.
Colourful: Italian Balotelli continues to make headlines off the pitch
'The time of cheap talk is over. Balotelli is 22 years old and now it's time to be professional. I ask from him seriousness and commitment in training, a more stable private life and correct behaviour on the pitch.
'[Roma forward Francesco] Totti is Mario's best example. If Francesco is able to have this continuity of performance at the highest level at the age of 36 years, it's because he has behaved as a professional.
'Mario now has returned to training and could be on the bench against Stoke. Otherwise, he could play against Watford in the FA Cup on January 5.'