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Valdes to rebuild fitness at United

Barclays Premier League 2 days ago
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Jun 28, 2014

Mario Balotelli's agent wants answers

ESPN FC's Janusz Michallik weighs in on Mario Balotelli's character and his performance in Brazil.

Mario Balotelli's agent has suggested the striker could quit AC Milan after being left "sad and desperate" by vice-president Barbara Berlusconi's suggestion that he is not irreplaceable.

Balotelli, 23, is currently dealing with being made a scapegoat for Italy's early World Cup exit, and while Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has defended the player so far Berlusconi has not been so quick to back him up.

Italy failed to get out of their group after a 1-0 defeat to Uruguay, with Balotelli substituted at half-time in the game after an ineffective 45 minutes. That led many to point the finger at the former Manchester City star for his country's early exit, despite scoring the goal in their only win in Brazil - 2-1 against England.

The striker has been linked with a move away from Milan all summer, with Arsenal believed to be one of his main suitors -- although their manager Arsene Wenger has denied talks have taken place.

And when Berlusconi was asked about his future last week, she said: "Balotelli is a great player and a real Italian talent, but nobody is irreplaceable. We'll see what happens."

They are words that have angered his representative, Mino Raiola, who feels Balotelli has been let down by the club.

Raiola said: "Mario is sad and desperate. Only Galliani has defended him while the FIGC [Italian football federation] remains absolutely silent.

"I appreciate Galliani's comments, but now I want to respond to Barbara Berlusconi. If, for her, Mario is replaceable, she should set up a meeting in the club's headquarters and we will find a solution, just as I am used to doing.

"I remember that Mario had other important offers. He [Balotelli] is at Milan because of his heart -- her [Berlusconi], I don't know."

Raiola added on the fall-out from Italy's World Cup failure: "It's disgraceful to point the finger at Balotelli. This is the mirror of a country whose football is dead. But did anyone really think Italy would win the World Cup? I am not surprised by Italy's failure.

"In Europe our [Italian] clubs no longer win [trophies], so how could the national team perform a miracle?

"I don't judge people and I don't know [coach Cesare] Prandelli. But his tactical plan was a losing one. How can you win playing just with one striker on the pitch? Even Costa Rica played with three strikers."

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