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Italy chief defends Balotelli

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president has backed Mario Balotelli after Silvio Berlusconi described the player as "a bad apple".

• City confirm Cavani interest

AC Milan president Berlusconi rubbished rumours earlier this week that the striker was set to make a move from Manchester City to the Rossoneri, questioning the player's attitude.

"[He is] someone who I would never accept in the Milan squad," he said. "The human aspect is very important at Milan. If you place a bad apple in the dressing room then it can infect all of the others."

However, FIGC chief Giancarlo Abete has defended the Italy international, saying he would only talk about Balotelli "as a player for the Nazionale and not in other contexts".

"Mario has always behaved well with the Azzurri," he told Antenna 3. "We have a coach like Cesare Prandelli who has shown himself capable of dealing with the players on the field and off, punishing when necessary or getting the best out of them."

Speculation continues to build over the future of Balotelli after his public brawl with manager Roberto Mancini during a recent City training session.

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