Balotelli won't rule out Prem return
AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli has not ruled out a return to the Premier League, despite previously vowing he would not play for any other club in England than Manchester City.
In an interview with Soccer Italia magazine the Italy international looked back fondly on his time at the Etihad Stadium, but admitted he could not rule out reneging on his promise to not play for any of City's domestic rivals. Arsenal have been linked with a move for the striker.
"The Manchester City fans were fantastic with me and when I left, I said that I'd never be able to see myself in England with another shirt than City's," Balotelli said. "But in football, nothing's impossible."
Balotelli previously played for AC Milan's city rivals Inter, where he was part of the squad which won the Treble in 2010 under the management of Jose Mourinho. The 23-year-old said that, while he had his moments with the now Chelsea boss, they are now on good terms.
"We both have big personalities and sometimes that caused problems," he said. "We respect each other, there is now a healthy friendship."
City fans may have seen some of the best of Balotelli -- who helped them win the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League title the following year -- but they also saw his darker side as several bust-ups within the club and reports of erratic behaviour away from it often made headlines. That, he claims, has slowly been eliminated from his character.
"I made mistakes in the past and I have no problem admitting it," he said. "I've matured a lot in the past two years and I don't think my conduct's a problem anymore."
One problem which does persist, and could eventually force Balotelli to leave Milan and return to England, is racism. Such behaviour continues to be prevalent in Italian football, despite attempts by the Lega Serie A to clamp down on it this season.
"It's important to understand that racism and racist people will never disappear," Balotelli said. "Football as a sport should help us and start giving severe punishments to racial behaviour. I'm starting to think that leaving the field is the best thing, although I've not done that yet.
"That would be a victory for racists, who are just stupid people."
Balotelli starred for Italy in their run to the semifinals of Euro 2012 and is his country's first-choice striker heading into this summer's World Cup. The Squadra Azzurra are in the same group as England, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and Balotelli is optimistic about their chances of not only reaching the knockout phase but lifting the trophy.
"The most beautiful thing about football is that it's not always the favourites who win," he said. "I think we've got a strong squad and a good chance of winning the World Cup. We've got a good mix of experience and youth and we can all aim to win."