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Apr 21, 2013

Allegri: Balotelli our new Ibrahimovic

AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri is confident striker Mario Balotelli can become the club's new Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

• Blog: Rivalry reignited as Milan head to Turin

Paris Saint-Germain forward Ibrahimovic left an indelible mark on the San Siro, firing the Rossoneri to the Scudetto in 2011.

But the 22-year-old Balotelli has returned to Italy with a bang, the former Inter Milan player scoring seven goals from just eight starts.

And on the eve of the club's showdown with Serie A leader Juventus, Allegri believes Balotelli will one day step out of Ibrahimovic's shadow, lauding the youngster's decision to turn down the chance to be presented with a Time magazine award in New York.

Balotelli will miss the match against Juventus after serving the final game of a two-match ban.

"Balotelli has the potential to become what Ibra was for us in the past," the 45-year-old told reporters.

"It was Mario's choice [to remain in Italy] and I think it shows his professionalism. He thought it important to stay here and train ahead of the match against Catania.

"He's a target for the media and whatever he does creates news. But so far, you can't say anything about him."

However, with recent reports suggesting the giant Swede was open to a return to the Serie A, rumours have started to swirl linking Ibrahimovic-Balotelli partnership at Milan.

But despite remaining a staunch admirer of Ibrahimovic, Allegri believes there is little chance the 31-year-old will return to his old stomping ground.

"He's an extraordinary player and was fundamental for our title win," Allegri said.

"Who wouldn't want him? But given the money he's on, I doubt he'll come back to Italy."

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