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The Toe Poke

Masked Mancini denies Suarez interest

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini showed his funny side when he turned up to Friday's press conference sporting a David Platt mask.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini denied the club are trying to buy Liverpool striker Luis Suarez after bizarrely emerging for his press conference wearing a mask bearing the face of his assistant David Platt.

• Brewin on Liverpool

Newspaper reports on Thursday suggested Suarez, 25, was a £50 million target for the Premier League champions but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has said he wants to keep the Uruguayan international, before the player himself insisted he is happy at Anfield.

And Mancini, who can pick from Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli in attack, has now said City do not require any further additions to their frontline.

"It is not true," he said. "We have a good team and we don't need to buy another player in January. We can't buy Suarez or another player because we have four strikers and Suarez plays for Liverpool."

City's alleged interest in Suarez follows stories that Mancini had agreed a deal to join Monaco last season and that Pep Guardiola is being lined up to replace him at the Etihad Stadium.

"For two weeks we talk about Monaco, after Guardiola, after another manager, now Suarez and Mario," Mancini said.

Balotelli, 22, was not even named on the bench for City's Premier League victory over Tottenham last Sunday but while Mancini denied he is punishing the striker, he said that other players have performed better in training.

"Mario didn't play because it was my choice," he said. "I have 20 players and if there are some players that don't work well, they don't deserve to play. There were other players that worked better than Mario and they deserve to go on the bench."

Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola has likened the relationship between the two Italians to that of a married couple - something which Mancini disagrees with.

"I know Mario like a guy. I know him like the other players but I am a manager, he is a player," Mancini said. "If he doesn't work well, he doesn't play. Sometimes he plays well, sometimes not well but he is an important player for us."

The 47-year-old was doing his first press conference for 10 days after sending in his No.2 Platt for his media duties before and after the Tottenham game.

And Mancini arrived wearing a mask of Platt's face before playing down his absence a week earlier. "I didn't come because I had a meeting on the same day," he said.


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