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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Inter claim first refusal on Balotelli

Inter Milan claim they have first refusal on Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli, despite reported interest from fierce rivals AC Milan.

Mario Balotelli has had limited opportunities for his club in recent weeks
Mario Balotelli played with Inter from 2007-2010

- Blog: Inter eye affordable options

Balotelli has been linked with a move back to Italy in recent weeks, but a return to his homeland appeared out of the question when Milan president Silvio Berlusconi labelled the striker a "rotten apple" earlier this week.

Reports in the English press on Thursday night claim City would be willing to sell Balotelli to the Rossneri for £24.6 million. However, Inter sporting director Pier Ausilio insists his club have already struck a deal to negotiate with the 22-year-old.

"It's true, Inter have first refusal right for Mario Balotelli. We will decide to exercise it just whether City will choose to sell him. Mario can play alongside any attacker," Ausilio told Panorama.

Meanwhile, Balotelli’s agent, Mino Raiola, has hit back at Berlusconi’s criticism of his client, stating the Italy international will stay in the Premier League for the remainder of the season.

"Balotelli is not a rotten apple. He's a cherry," Mino Raiola told Sky Sport 24. "There's a 0.0001% possibility of Balotelli returning to Italy."

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