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Mario Balotelli won"t leave Manchester City – Roberto Mancini

Mario's going nowhere, the Sheikh loves him too much, insists City boss Mancini

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UPDATED:

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

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

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

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.'

Didier Drogba will not be going to Juventus, according to their manager Antonio Conte

Drogba not going to Juve: Conte rejects a move for the Ivorian

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UPDATED:

00:11 GMT, 17 December 2012

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has ruled out making an approach for former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba in the transfer window.

A report in the Gazzetta dello Sport today suggested Juve had made 'significant progress' with an approach for the Shanghai Shenhua forward, who made an appearance at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, who could be tempted back to Europe after failing to settle in China.

Untrue: Juventus manager Antonio Conte (right) has rejected claims that he is lining up a bid for Didier Drogba in January

Untrue: Juventus manager Antonio Conte (right) has rejected claims that he is lining up a bid for Didier Drogba in January

Juventus' coach Antonio Conte blows a kiss to the crowd

The Serie A champions have also been linked with Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, but Conte insists Juventus are in no financial position to sign 'top players'.

Following today's 3-0 victory over Atalanta, he told the Corriere dello Sport: 'Speaking about the transfer market seems a bit disrespectful to my current players, who have showed great desire and dedication to my ideas over the last year.

'We are just fine keeping our feet on the ground. This is a difficult time given the current economic climate, not just for Juve but for all the other clubs.

Unsettled: Drogba (pictured) has failed to adjust to life in China and is seeking a move back to Europe. His appeal to FIFA for an emergency loan move back to Chelsea was rejected last month

Unsettled: Drogba (pictured) has failed to adjust to life in China and is seeking a move back to Europe. His appeal to FIFA for an emergency loan move back to Chelsea was rejected last month

Suited and booted: Didier Drogba made an appearance at the SPOTY awards

Suited and booted: Didier Drogba made an appearance at the SPOTY awards

'I won't be bringing in any top players because we don't have the means to support them.

'We have to make the most of what we have, we have to work hard and try to improve our current players into top players.

'Some have already got there and some will become great.'

Juventus will lead the Serie A table going into the new year as Conte looks to win a second Scudetto in just two years of stewardship in Turin, with the Bianconeri also through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Top: Juventus will be top of Serie A at Christmas, seven points clear of Inter Milan

Top: Juventus will be top of Serie A at Christmas, seven points clear of Inter Milan

Pep Guardiola has pick of jobs, not just Chelsea

As football's most wanted manager, Guardiola will have pick of the top jobs

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UPDATED:

15:42 GMT, 22 November 2012

Had you delved into the heart of the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport on the day Chelsea were beaten in Turin you would have found a cartoon.

The features were exaggerated but the image was familiar, a smartly-suited and shaven-headed man with stubble, dwarfed by the skyscrapers of New York, studying a signpost.

London, Milan, Munich and Manchester were the options available. Across European football, everyone is asking the same question: Where now for Pep Guardiola, the world’s most wanted coach

Where next, Pep Guardiola could have the pick of jobs when he returns to football

Where next, Pep Guardiola could have the pick of jobs when he returns to football

Roman Abramovich likes to think it is Stamford Bridge whereupon he will be expected to recreate the success he enjoyed in Barcelona, turning Chelsea into the world’s finest and most popular team.

What can go wrong The first thing for Abramovich is that Guardiola could swerve him for one of the other offers.

AC Milan and Bayern Munich are serious about their interest and Manchester City have recently appointed Txiki Begiristain as their director of football.

It was Begiristain, when in a similar role at Barcelona, who lured Guardiola back to the club in his first coaching role, in charge of the reserve team. City were favourites among the British bookies until yesterday’s shift.

Then there is Manchester United, the quiet option out of respect for Sir Alex Ferguson’s longevity, but if there is one person who might smooth the sensitivities of all sides of the Fergie exit, it is probably Guardiola.

Repeat performance Guardliola could find it difficult to replicate his success at Barcelona

Repeat performance Guardliola could find it difficult to replicate his success at Barcelona

There is even a suggestion in some quarters he would be prepared to work in tandem with Ferguson as he learns more about the club.

And here is the second point. Guardiola’s incredible success at Barcelona is rooted in his emotional bond with his boyhood club and his understanding of their culture.

His reign started with a team meeting which would pass into legend at the start of a pre-season tour in Scotland, when the new boss summoned the players and mapped out his philosophy.

This was the spiritual birth of Pep’s Barca, the greatest team-talk ever heard to inspire the greatest team ever seen.

Players told of his communication skills – he is inclusive, a teacher rather than a dictator – and his discipline – strict but reasonable – and his attention to detail – he cut down-time spent in hotels in an effort to keep his players relaxed and free from stress.

Guardiola demanded standards were raised and his values struck a chord. He focused at first on creating an environment of mutual trust.

Only one: Lionel Messi was central to Barcelona's success under Guardiola

Only one: Lionel Messi was central to Barcelona's success under Guardiola

He proved a natural leader, as he was as a player, but all this was founded upon his deep love for Barcelona. Whether it can be transplanted at will is questionable. As an intelligent man, he will realise this.

His tactics too were soaked in heritage. Possession is nine tenths of the law where Guardiola is concerned, as it was with Johan Cruyff, architect of Barcelona’s original 'Dream Team'.

If you have the ball, keep it. If you don’t have the ball, go and get it, fast. He promotes simplicity, which is why he trusted Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, when his predecessor doubted them.

Without him this season, Barca seem to operate with a fraction less control but just as potently, thanks in a large part to the Argentine striker recognised as the world’s best footballer.

Guardiola oversaw a new training ground and promoted young talent from the La Masia talent factory, and readily moved those on who did not fully commit to the project, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

All of this produced the perfect stage for Lionel Messi to prosper in a position which became known as the 'False Nine'. Curiously, Roberto Di Matteo deployed Eden Hazard in this same role against Juventus.

Vacation station: Guardiola is currently in New York as he ponders his next move

Vacation station: Guardiola is currently in New York as he ponders his next move

It was the first (and last) time Di Matteo tried it and, whatever the reasoning, it only strengthened the suspicion that this team is being designed with Guardiola in mind, either with or without his recruitment advice.

But there is only one Messi and prising him from the Nou Camp is impossible.

So, if Guardiola opts to satisfy his inquisitive mind and his thirst for new experiences with a job at the Bridge, he will have to prove he can create a new team without Messi. Can he export success like Jose Mourinho does It is another of the key questions to sit alongside others such as: Why would anyone who does not need the money want to work for Abramovich

Having worked at Barcelona he is no stranger to expectation but the Russian once courted Carlo Ancelotti with the same enthusiasm he now devotes to Guardiola, setting up clandestine dates in France and Switzerland. Then, he fired him after two years, 12 months after the Italian secured Chelsea’s first league and FA Cup double.

Di Matteo became the first to clinch the Champions League, the trophy Abramovich wanted more than anything else. He is now out of work.

It is all about Guardiola not Rafa Benitez. But Guardiola, unlike Abramovich, has options to chew on as he savours his sabbatical in the Big Apple.

In fact, he has all the options in the world and the pick of the most illustrious football clubs on earth.

Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna could be tempted by summer move to Inter Milan

Arsenal defender Sagna could be tempted by summer move to Inter Milan

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UPDATED:

05:54 GMT, 10 October 2012

Unsettled Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna is a top target for Inter Milan, according to reports in Italy.

The French defender has just resumed training after recovering from a broken leg and faces a battle with
impressive Carl Jenkinson to reclaim his place in the side.

On his way back: Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

On his way back: Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna

Corriere dello Sport claim Inter are monitoring his rehabilitation with a view to a summer move.

Sagna, who is under contract at the Emirates until June 2014, received a dressing down by manager Arsene Wenger in the summer after he questioned the club's decision to sell Robin van Persie
and Alex Song.

Chelsea want 25m Stevan Jovetic

Chelsea consider 25m bid for Fiorentina striker Jovetic as they strive to replace Drogba

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UPDATED:

08:09 GMT, 28 June 2012

Chelsea are edging closer to a deal for Fiorentina and Montenegro striker Stevan Jovetic.

The Viola were not impressed with a 20million offer from the Blues but Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport believes 25m is enough to secure the forward.

Jovetic reportedly has a buy-out clause in his contract to that value which the bid would trigger.

Closer: Chelsea are getting nearer to signing Stevan Jovetic

Closer: Chelsea are getting nearer to signing Stevan Jovetic

Juventus and Napoli are also interested in the star but he might want to move away from Serie A and try pastures new.

The Blues are determined to sign a new striker to fill the gap left by Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou.

New 13m Arsenal signing Giroud recently revealed he rejected a move to the European Champions.

Chelsea are also interested in Edinson Cavani but have been warned by Napoli that the striker is not for sale at any price.

The interest in a new big-name forward suggests they do not have faith in Fernando Torres to lead the line with Romelu Lukaku and Daniel Sturridge as back-up.

Euro 2012: Mario Balotelli in race storm over newspaper cartoon

Balotelli fury at King Kong cartoon slur in Italian newspaper

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 June 2012

Unfunny: Mario Balotelli was personified as King Kong in the offensive Gazzetta cartoon

Unfunny: Mario Balotelli was personified as King Kong in the offensive Gazzetta cartoon

Mario Balotelli has found himself at the centre of a new race row, this time sparked by a deeply offensive cartoon depicting him as King Kong in a leading Italian newspaper.

On the morning of Italy’s European Championship encounter with England, Gazzetta dello Sport published a drawing of a giant Balotelli atop Big Ben swatting away footballs in the same way King Kong did aircrafts atop New York’s Empire State Building in the film.

The Balotelli camp was understood to be outraged by the cartoon and Gazzetta have issued an apology.

‘It wasn’t our cartoonist’s best product. In these times we need a bit more moderation, caution and good taste. But we have always fought against racism and condemned booing against Balotelli as unacceptable,’ said the Milan-based newspaper.

A spokesman for the anti-racism organisation Kick It Out said: ‘Mario is such an important person in Italian football.

'Aspiring players in Italy who want to follow in his footsteps could wonder what support they will have when they get to his level when they see cartoons like that.

‘It is not the first time we have seen this sort of depiction of Mario and we think the media have a responsibility. How do they think they can portray him like that’

Journalists in Italy were horrified. Luigi Garlando said: ‘It is an unfortunate cartoon. It is hard to defend the right of satire against censorship in this case and I would never have allowed it in my newspaper.’

Time to focus: Balotelli and Italy will take on Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final

Time to focus: Balotelli and Italy will take on Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-final

Balotelli, now preparing for Thursday’s semi-final against Germany in Warsaw, said before Euro 2012 that he would walk off the pitch if he was racially abused.

On Tuesday UEFA also opened disciplinary proceedings against the Spanish football federation and the Russian football union for alleged racist behaviour and chanting by fans.

European football’s governing body fined the Croatian football federation €30,000 after supporters threw fireworks and displayed ‘inappropriate and racist banners’ during a match against Spain. It was Croatia’s second racism-related sanction of the tournament.

In Krakow the focus for the Italians remained on trying to do to Germany what they did to England on Sunday night in Kiev.

Andrea Pirlo, the architect of England’s destruction, appeared before the media and had few words of encouragement for Roy Hodgson’s beaten quarter-finalists.

Charged: Meanwhile, UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish Russian FA's over the behaviour of their fans

Charged: Meanwhile, UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Spanish Russian FA's over the behaviour of their fans

‘Our approach to the game against Germany will be the same as against England,’ he said. ‘This is because it is the only way we can play. We have to take advantage of our quality, our technique. But, unlike England, Germany can create many threats to our defence.

‘England played a very prudent and careful way. They were sitting back all match, like Chelsea did in the Champions League final. They tried to keep that same shape. For them, going to the penalty shootout was already a good result.’

Pirlo said his stunning chip penalty was a key moment in the game because it was a huge psychological blow to England.

‘I didn’t celebrate the penalty because at that point there was nothing to celebrate,’ he said. ‘But it was really relevant to the match and our win. This changed the course of the match.

'For me, Joe Hart seemed to be very confident in himself and it seemed to be a psychological blow. I needed to do something to beat him. Penalties are a very personal thing.

‘When you have to shoot a penalty you have to be confident in yourself.’

Manchester City ponder 30m move for Wesley Sneijder

Manchester City poised to make fresh 30m move for Inter playmaker Sneijder

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UPDATED:

06:02 GMT, 30 May 2012

Manchester City could resurrect their
interest in Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder after missing out on
Eden Hazard, according to reports in Italy.

Roberto Mancini has been stung into
action after Belgian playmaker Hazard snubbed a move to the Etihad Stadium
in favour of Premier League rivals Chelsea.

Looking good: Wesley Sneijder trains with Dutch squad for Euro 2012

Looking good: Wesley Sneijder trains with Dutch squad for Euro 2012

Now City are ready to meet Inter's 30m asking price for Dutch midfielder Sneijder, reports the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Manchester United also held talks with the Italian club in January but were unable to agree a fee for the 27-year-old.

Roberto Mancini wants new Manchester City deal

Mancini wants to commit future to City after leading Blues to Premier League title

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UPDATED:

10:39 GMT, 15 May 2012

Roberto Mancini is ready to commit his future to Manchester City but has yet to open talks over a fresh deal at the newly-crowned Premier League champions.

The Italian led the club to their first title in 44 years when they staged a thrilling comeback against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday.

And Mancini, who admits he relishes the challenge of managing elsewhere in Europe, has just one year remaining on his current deal.

Here to stay: Roberto Mancini (centre) wants to stay at Manchester City

Here to stay: Roberto Mancini (centre) wants to stay at Manchester City

'I have not yet talked about the new contract, but I'm happy to work here,' he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

'There is the basis to open talks.

'Sheikh Mansour sent me a message of congratulations. He was happy.'

Mancini also revealed he hopes to one day manage in the Iberian Peninsula.

'Winning abroad is my dream,' he told Corriere dello Sport.

'One day I'd like to win the Spanish Liga but also the Portuguese league with Benfica. There are clubs that have made football history: I am ready for anything, but now I just think about City.'

Party time: Mancini celebrates City's stunning Premier League title triumph

Party time: Mancini celebrates City's stunning Premier League title triumph

Party time: Mancini celebrates City's stunning title triumph on Sunday

Reflecting on Sunday's stunning win at the Etihad Stadium, Mancini admitted divien intervention played its part in City's 3-2 win.

Trailing 2-1 with just four minutes of injury time remaining, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero struck to ensure the trophy was heading for the blue half of Manchester.

'It was a miracle,' Mancini added. 'God has taken a look at the game and gave us a hand.

Winner: Sergio Aguero (right) scored the decisive goal at the Etihad Stadium

Winner: Sergio Aguero (right) scored the decisive goal at the Etihad Stadium

'The draw at home against Sunderland was key. It was a character lesson for us and I thank again Balotelli and Kolarov for their two goals.'

'It is very deserved. We made 89 points. We scored more than anyone. We played the best football. And we twice beat United.

'Beating an opponent like United, after a championship like this, increases our own merits.'

San Siro to have artificial pitch installed

San Siro set to have artificial pitch installed following Wenger and Guardiola complaints

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UPDATED:

10:21 GMT, 20 April 2012

The San Siro looks likely to have an artificial pitch installed in time for the start of next season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola have both complained about the state of the pitch this season when facing AC Milan in the Champions League.

Rant: Wenger was furious after Arsenal's 4-0 defeat at the San Siro

Rant: Wenger was furious after Arsenal's 4-0 defeat at the San Siro

Matt Fortune

Wenger said after Arsenal's 4-0 defeat in March: ‘I didn’t know it was possible. The pitch we played on was 10 times worse than it was on Tuesday.

'I complained to the official at UEFA but he just looks at you and says, ‘‘Oh, thank you very much, I have a dinner tonight’’.’

Guardiola's complaint was less frantic than Wenger's, probably given the fact his side drew 0-0 against Milan.

'In the end we adapt to everything… but it's clear that this was a problem for the spectacle,' he said earlier this month.

Complaint: Barca registered their feelings with UEFA

Complaint: Barca registered their feelings with UEFA

Gazzetta dello Sport have reported that work on a hybrid pitch combining synthetic and natural layers will begin in June.

Following the Barca game Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani expressed his desire to see a new pitch laid, but stressed that an agreement needed to be reached with rivals Inter Milan, who share the stadium.

The pitch has been in poor shape for years, ever since a partial roof was installed at the stadium for the 1990 World Cup, reducing exposure to sun.

Lazio playmaker Hernanes issues come and get me plea to Arsenal

Lazio playmaker Hernanes issues come and get me plea to Arsenal

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UPDATED:

06:56 GMT, 18 April 2012

Arsenal are in pole position to sign
Lazio ace Hernanes after the midfielder snubbed an approach from Russian
big-spenders Anzhi.

Hernanes impressed after joining the
Italians from Sao Paulo for 11.2million two years ago, but Lazio boss
Edy Reja is prepared to sacrifice him because he is too similar to
in-form Italy international Stefano Mauri, according to reports in Italy.

Target: Lazio's Brazilian midfielder Hernanes (left)

Target: Lazio's Brazilian midfielder Hernanes (left)

The 26-year-old has been almost ever-present for Lazio this term and has scored eight goals in 29 appearances.

But he has grown frustrated at being substituted in
20 of his 26 starts and Lazio have indicated they will sell him for 16m.

Brazilian international Hernanes has been targeted by Anzhi and it was understood that Lazio were willing to sell.

La Gazzetta dello Sport have claimed that he wants his current club to turn down advances from Anzhi and instead listen to offers from Arsenal.

Lazio paid Sao Paulo around 9m for him in 2010.