AC Milan have completed the signing of Mario Balotelli from Manchester City on a four-and-a-half year deal, with the Italy international expressing his hope that his former club retained their Premier League title this season without him.
The move ends weeks of speculation that has seen Balotelli, 22, linked with a number of clubs in his homeland.
Milan announced the news on their official website via a statement released on Thursday.
The statement read: “AC Milan announces that it has acquired Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, who has signed a contract until 30 June 2017."
Balotelli, who spoke of his excitement at playing for the Rossoneri on Wednesday, admits he will always remember his time at City fondly.
“For sure I will remember my brilliant team-mates, the manager and all the supporters,” he told City’s official website. “They are the best, they were great with me and I will always have a very special place in my heart for City, it’s a great club with a great future. I thank them for all of their support of me. Maybe one day we will see each other again.
"I think to win the Premier League was a very special moment, and I am proud to have been a part of that."
He added: “Being at City was an important part of my life and career. I needed to grow up like a player and as a person and it has been a very good experience for me.
"I will remember, too, the song that City fans had for me. It was special for me and I always liked to hear it. I hope they can still sing it sometimes still, even if I'm not there. Someone told me the fans sang it at QPR; that is nice.
"I will always be interested in Manchester City and their fortunes. I really hope that City can win the league again this year and beat United. I think there are great players at the club and a great manager too. The club will be very successful in the future and that makes me happy."
Balotelli had an up-and-down relationship with City boss Roberto Mancini - with the pair infamously squaring up to each other during a training session - but the Italy international says he will always be in debt to his old manager.
“I spoke with Roberto before I went to speak to the players. We spoke for some time about lots of things,” he said. “He was sad, and I was too. But it was a good conversation. I love Roberto, he has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me.”
The deal was first made public by Milan director Umberto Gandini, who confirmed on Tuesday that a deal was in place, subject to a medical.
“I certainly do not have to introduce Mario Balotelli,” vice-president Adriano Galliani told the club’s official website. “It is a dream come true and something that we all wanted, with the president Silvio Berlusconi at the forefront.
“With the arrival of Mario, we have strengthened our team a lot. We have worked so hard and Mario has been in our hearts for a long time and finally we have succeeded in signing him.”
Despite helping City to the title last season and impressing with Italy at Euro 2012, Balotelli found his opportunities limited as his club’s fourth-choice striker this term, and his days at Eastlands appeared numbered after photos emerged of the bust-up with Mancini.
Balotelli, a childhood Milan supporter, has made no secret of his desire to represent the Rossoneri and reportedly accepted a pay-cut to secure the move.
"I ran to Milan,” Balotelli told Milan Channel. "I had wanted to play here for a long time. The start of this season was negative, but with this jersey I will do better. I made some important choices, so I hope they can bring good luck to me and the team. I just want the fans to love me."
Balotelli, who will wear the number 45 shirt at Milan, makes a return to the San Siro after playing for rivals Inter between 2006 and 2010.