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Mancini: I want to keep Mario

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says he will not sell Mario Balotelli to AC Milan, insisting that he is “very happy” to keep the striker at the club.

Mancini admitted that he lost his temper with Balotelli
Mario Balotelli has attracted plenty of interest in Italy

While Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi labelled Balotelli “a rotten apple” earlier this week, the seven-time champions of Europe are still reported to be interested in signing the striker.

And Inter Milan, who sold Balotelli to City for £24 million in 2010, have claimed they have first refusal on the Italy international if he leaves the Etihad Stadium.

It is believed City would be willing to let Balotelli leave if the right offer came in, however, Mancini has made a point of quashing these rumours.

“It is not true. I am very, very happy [to keep him],” he said.

Last week, Mancini pledged to give Balotelli “another 100 chances” despite their recent training-ground clash, when the manager was pictured grabbing his player.

But Balotelli returned to the City team 48 hours after their altercation, coming on as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 FA Cup win over Watford. It was his first appearance for almost four weeks, since December’s Manchester derby defeat, when Mancini was criticised for selecting his compatriot.

The striker followed this up by appearing for City’s Elite Development squad in Monday’s 4-0 victory over Blackburn, in which he scored twice.

“He went with the Under-21s because he needed a game after 40 days [actually four weeks] without a game,” Mancini said. “He played one game and he played well.”

City travel to Arsenal on Sunday in the knowledge they have not won a league game away at Highbury or the Emirates Stadium for 37 years.

They lost 1-0 at the Emirates in April - a game where Balotelli was sent off - to leave them eight points behind Manchester United with only six matches remaining, leading Mancini to hit out at the player after the match. 

- Pick your Premier League fantasy squad for the second half of the season now and challenge your friends.

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