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 By Ben Gladwell

Berlusconi was close to Balotelli sale

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi is reported to have claimed that Italy's World Cup failure meant an agreement to sell Mario Balotelli to a Premier League club fell through.

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Speaking at a meeting of his Forza Italia political party in Milan, Berlusconi is said to have revealed that he was at advanced stages of negotiations with a Premier League club for the Italy striker, made a scapegoat by many for Italy's failure in Brazil.

As a result of the player's performances at the World Cup, Berlusconi reportedly claimed, the move broke down -- and he did not think he would be able to sell 23-year-old Balotelli, who has been linked with Arsenal, in the summer.

"It wasn't Italy who lost the World Cup, it was me," he is quoted as saying by the Adnkronos agency, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was about to sell Balotelli to an English club for many millions but, after this World Cup, who's going to buy him now?"

Berlusconi was reported to have mentioned a fee of 35 million euros for the former Manchester City striker, who has distanced himself from Italy and Italian football after being heavily criticised for his performances in Brazil.

His agent Mino Raiola has not ruled out a move in the summer, saying last week that he would be open to negotiations if the Serie A club wished to sell Balotelli.

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