Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong feels Mario Balotelli can make the difference in the title race.

De Jong believes Mario Balotelli could be City's ace in the pack if he forgets about being a joker.

He told the Sunday Mirror: "Mario is a big character in the team. He is still very young and he wants to enjoy ­himself.

"He looks unhappy sometimes even when he scores, but the ­players will tell you that he is always looking for a laugh.

"Maybe because we laugh at the things he does that he keeps doing them. He goes from one thing to another.

"I think there are signs that he is learning about when to joke and when to be serious. Mario is Mario, but he can be very important to the team."