MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) – Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has once again rejected speculation linking Mario Balotelli with AC Milan and admits he is struggling to add to his squad ahead of next week’s transfer deadline.
The Italy striker has made just seven Premier League starts this season after a string of controversial incidents.
Balotelli, 22, attempted to take the club to a Premier League tribunal in December after contesting fines for his poor disciplinary record.
Milan vice president Adriano Galliani has told City they need to lower their asking price for Balotelli, who has also been linked with a loan move to the San Siro.
But Mancini has dismissed the prospects of Milan signing Balotelli before the transfer window closes on Thursday.
He also added that it would be “difficult” for City to sign more players themselves and stated that it is not just Balotelli that he is looking to keep hold of.
Mancini said: “For two years it’s always the question. It’s not true. Mario’s staying here. We haven’t had any requests about Mario or any other player.
“Mario has another three years on his contract.
“We don’t have enough players, we are 18 players now and we can’t sell any players.
“Every day we talk about Mario. There is sometimes speculation about Mario.”
Mancini has also played down reports that director of football Txiki Begiristain, who joined the club from Barcelona last year, has stipulated that City will play in a 4-3-3 system and all future signings will be purchased with that shape in mind.
The City manager insists it would be wrong to attempt to copy Barcelona’s playing style.
He added: “I don’t know but I speak with Txiki every day and he never told me this and we have the same thoughts about football and it’s not more important to play 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 4-5-1, it’s important to have good players.
“Everyone wants to play like Barca but Barca is one, like Real Madrid or AC Milan, it’s impossible to play like Barca but you can win if you play different styles.
“We are agreeing about everything because we think the same about football. We are the same. We don’t have a different view.”
French midfielder Samir Nasri is Mancini’s only fresh injury concern ahead of their FA Cup fourth round trip to Stoke on Saturday.
The former Arsenal man has been struggling with illness and may miss the game at the Britannia Stadium.
City beat Stoke in the 2011 final to end a 35-year trophy drought in Mancini’s first full season in charge.
The Italian then guided the club to the league title last season but has never contemplated what might have happened to him if City had not won the cup two years ago.
He said: “I don’t think about this. We wanted to win that final, to start to win and it was an important moment for us. We want to try to do this every year if it’s possible.
“We have the FA Cup and Premier League this year and we want to try to win. It’s important for us to try to win every year.
“I have good memories. It was a fantastic moment to win a trophy after 35 years. It was important because we worked hard and it was good for the club and the supporters. A really good moment.
“I think that not only for us, every team that goes to the Britannia has a problem because Stoke are strong, physical and every team has a problem with this but in the last two years we’ve played well, had chances to win and been unlucky.”