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Manchester derby 5 hours ago
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Mar 30, 2013

Allegri: Balotelli as good as Ibra

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri believes Mario Balotelli has already reached the level of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but has urged the Italian to live up to his potential.

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Balotelli, 22, scored a brace in AC Milan's last league outing - a 2-0 win over Palermo - and could add to his season tally of seven goals when the Rossoneri travel to Chievo on Saturday.

Allegri insists the Italy international has a similar playing style to Ibrahimovic, although his early success at Milan indicates Balotelli still has much more to offer.

"He's similar to Ibrahimovic both physically and technically, but he can get better because he's playing with continuity here," Allegri said at a press conference. "Balotelli still has to improve a lot as a center forward given his potential, but he has all the right ingredients to do it."

After a sluggish start to the season, Milan sit in third place in Serie A - just two points behind second-placed Napoli - and Allegri is hopeful of gaining automatic qualification for next season's Champions League.

"The squad is young and I'm happy with the work that the club has done," Allegri said. "If we get into the Champions League, without having to pre-qualify, it'll have been a good year. One thing is for sure, if we're to get where we want to be, we'll need a lot of points."

Allegri's future at the San Siro was in doubt earlier this season, but the 45-year-old is now more positive about his chances of securing a long term deal in Italy.

"I'm very happy to be at Milan and hope to stay at this club for the long term. For that to happen we need results so let's hope the team can give us some satisfaction," Allegri said.

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