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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Balotelli 'worth as much as Mona Lisa'

Mario Balotelli’s agent has reiterated that the Manchester City striker is unlikely to return to Serie A in the near future as he does not believe any Italian side could afford him.

Mario Balotelli has had limited opportunities for his club in recent weeks
Mario Balotelli has had few opportunities at Manchester City in recent weeks

Italy international Balotelli, 22, has regularly been linked with a return to the country, with Inter Milan, his former club, and AC Milan, the club he supported as a child, said to maintain an interest. His lack of game time in recent weeks - he has started only one of City’s last eight matches - has served to reignite the speculation.

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi suggested a deal was unlikely in midweek. “Balotelli is not a dream,” he said ahead of the club’s Champions League clash with Zenit. Asked after the match why he had made the remark, he replied: “Because I never dream.”

Nonetheless, talk has persisted in Italy that Milan are hoping to secure a January loan agreement with a view to a permanent deal in the summer, but agent Mino Raiola believes the cost of the deal - he is valued at around €25 million, with a further €5 million a year in wages - would be prohibitive.

“Balotelli costs as much as the Mona Lisa and no Italian team can afford him,” Raiola told Sky Sport Italia. “The City owners have been very clear: they do not want to sell him.”

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