Rumours had circulated that a frustrated Balotelli might be looking for a swift return to Italy, although quotes attributed to the player's agent appeared in the press this week indicating he was happy at City.
Asked for his reaction to that news, Mancini said: "I think Mario must start to play here - this is the first thing. It is very important for us.
"He played for 20 minutes against Arsenal. He is a good player and I think he will be a very important player for us this season."