Ever wondered just exactly what happened between manager Roberto Mancini and Mario Balotelli at Manchester City? The former City boss has finally revealed the answers.
It was Mancini who brought Balotelli to City back in 2010, only for the striker to leave the club under a cloud three years later.
His departure at City came just weeks after a training ground spat with Mancini was captured for the world to see, but the Italian has revealed that it was Balotelli falling out with his team-mates – and not the highly publicised disagreement between them – that led to his exit.
“In a training session, I said to players not to make stupid tackles on Gael [Clichy] because he was just coming back from injury. And then, Mario made a strong tackle on him. I was furious,” Mancini told L’Equipe.
“I grabbed him by the collar wanting to push him but he is so strong physically I couldn’t move him. From seeing the pictures, you would think that we came to blows but nothing happened.
“He came into conflict with some team-mates because of his behaviour, and he wanted to return to Italy. I was disappointed that he wanted to leave because he should have done so much more in an extraordinary championship.”
Balotelli’s career hasn’t exactly gone from strength to strength since leaving City. A stint at Liverpool proved unsuccessful and he is now trying to resurrect his career at Nice in France. He has also been dropped from the Italy national team.
“If Mario today doesn’t play for the Italy side, it is his fault,” said Mancini. “It is incredible that he is not the starting centre-forward for his national side.
“He is the best Italian striker of the last few years. I hope Mario understands that he has to have a different attitude and think only about football. It is not that difficult.”
Mancini still fondly remembers City’s 6-1 derby victory over Manchester United in 2011, when Balotelli scored a brace. It was Balotelli’s finest hour at the club.
After scoring the opening goal, Balotelli lifted his City top to reveal a ‘Why always me?’ t-shirt.
“That day, it was like Mario was grown up, an adult, and all the others were children,” he said. ” I would have liked to have seen him always like he was during that derby, because things come so naturally to him when he wants them to. I was happy he showed his true value.
“And when he showed his t-shirt, I really said to myself that he is a phenomenon. Who could have thought of doing that? He’s a phenomenon in the way things come into his head.”