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Man City or Man Utd? Mario Balotelli: What they say about the Inter Milan firebrand

Mario Balotelli: Coming to a Premier League ground near you.

The Inter Milan striker is a human headline. He's only been playing first team football at Inter for little over two years, but is among the world's most polarising figures.

Mino Raiola, Balotelli's controversial agent, has hinted a move to Manchester City (or is that to Chelsea or Manchester United?) is a matter of days away.

And with a switch to England now imminent, we thought it would be worth a look at what those in the Italian game have been saying about the young striker since his debut as a 15 year-old at Serie C1 Lumezzane.

 Samuel Eto'o, Inter Milan striker "Yesterday I talked to Mario and told him what to do to get back into the squad, I won't repeat this in front of reporters.

"I am ten years older than him and have good experience. Javier Zanetti, Marco Materazzi and Francesco Toldo in our dressing room are older and these people try to talk to him. We know what to do, every day we talk about this to him.

"He is important, but he must recognise the words of those who can advise him."

Marco Materazzi, Inter Milan defender "Balotelli? It is he who should thank us for bringing him to the (Champions League) quarter-finals. I don't want to hear from someone who wishes the squad to lose.

"If he supports us, then he will be welcomed back. Otherwise the door is always open for all. The President has never closed the door to those who wanted to leave."

Arrigo Sacchi, former AC Milan and Italy coach "He is a talent, but has yet to mature and above all to play as a team player."

Antonio Cassano, Sampdoria striker "I hope he does not make my mistakes. He's 18 years of age, he can't do everything at this age. He needs room to make errors. But he also needs people to steer him onto the right path. Age will make him better.

"Balotelli is not like me. When I was his age, I had not won anything. 80% of my problems I brought onto myself."

Lapo Elkann, Juventus director "I'm not worried about the young talent in Italy. We have so many world class youngsters. Look at Balotelli. He's a player who, if managed properly, over time will become a huge talent."

Ivan Cordoba, Inter Milan defender "Mario is doing silly things and we still do not know what he wants. If he has offers from other clubs, my advice is a change of scene, to find new motivation, something he doesn't possess."

Roberto Baggio, Italian football legend "Balotelli is a great talent, but must change his attitude. Acting in this way, he does not attract the sympathy of people."

Dejan Stankovic, Inter Milan midfielder "You see what's in the head of Balotelli, he is like a child. I too am a father of three children, you cannot take him by the neck. He suffered at the hands of the fans, the kid, but I also between 2-3pm suffered years ago and had problems with the fans. He reacted wrong, but there is still time and I'm confident. It is better to be diplomatic ..."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Barcelona striker "I saw Materazzi after the game, instead of celebrating the team's success, follow Mario into the tunnel and attack him like I had never before seen in my entire career.

"Mario was in the place where I could have been a year ago ..."

Marcello Lippi, former Italy coach "At Inter they are working a lot on this youngster and it is an important process for him to become important for the future of the Nerazzurri and Italy."

Francesco Totti, Roma captain "From the first minute he entered the field, Balotelli taunted me, he even said, 'Oi granddad you're finished!' So ... I was wrong, I know, but I never said black m ..."

Luciano Moggi, former Juventus sports director "Moratti and Mourinho were wrong with how they handled the lad. This approach is not good for his growth. Balotelli would not act like this with me. He will now leave because his agent Raiola is not well liked in Milan, as shown by the departures of Ibrahimovic and Maxwell."

Carlo Ancelotti, Chelsea manager "Here, the environment is different, I think a player with this type of character, in my opinion, would do better here than Italy. It is difficult to find a player so young with these qualities, even in England it is hard to find players at this level.

"I would be happy to coach him."

Cesare Maldini, former Italy World Cup coach "He is young, has much to learn, but I believe in him, he has all the qualities to become a good player. And there is nothing wrong with calling someone (for the World Cup) who does not hold a place in his club team In any case, every time I have seen Balotelli play, he has done well."

Cesare Prandelli, Italy coach "I do not know Balotelli, so I cannot give him any kind of advice. I would just say find a way to be a calm professional."

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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