Roberto Mancini has lifted the lid on the incident that led to Mario Balotelli’s Manchester City exit.
Mancini signed Balotelli, who is now at Nice after leaving Liverpool, when he was City manager in 2010, but the striker only showed fleeting glimpses of his talent before leaving under a cloud in January 2013.
Balotelli’s departure came a few weeks after a training ground spat with Mancini.
“In a training session, I said to players not to make stupid tackles on Gael [Clichy] because he was just coming back from injury. And then, Mario made a strong tackle on him. I was furious,” Mancini told L’Equipe.
“I grabbed him by the collar wanting to push him but he is so strong physically I couldn’t move him. From seeing the pictures, you would think that we came to blows but nothing happened.
“He came into conflict with some team-mates because of his behaviour, and he wanted to return to Italy. I was disappointed that he wanted to leave because he should have done so much more in an extraordinary championship.”
Since leaving City for AC Milan, Balotelli’s career has continued to stutter and he has found himself dropped from the Italy national team.
“If Mario today doesn’t play for the Italy side, it is his fault,” said Mancini. “It is incredible that he is not the starting centre-forward for his national side.
“He is the best Italian striker of the last few years. I hope Mario understands that he has to have a different attitude and think only about football. It is not that difficult.”
Balotelli’s finest moment in a City shirt came when he scored twice in a 6-1 derby victory over Manchester United.
After netting the opener, Balotelli lifted his City top to reveal a ‘Why always me?’ t-shirt, and Mancini described him as a “phenomenon” on that day.
“That day, it was like Mario was grown up, an adult, and all the others were children,” he said. ” I would have liked to have seen him always like he was during that derby, because things come so naturally to him when he wants them to. I was happy he showed his true value.
“And when he showed his t-shirt, I really said to myself that he is a phenomenon. Who could have thought of doing that? He’s a phenomenon in the way things come into his head.”
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