Mancini finally signs Milner and defends ‘rebel’ Balotelli

MANCHESTER City manager Roberto Mancini insists Mario Balotelli does not deserve
his notoriety and has backed the Italian prodigy to take England by storm.

Mancini introduced Balotelli to the press yesterday, after finally landing Aston Villa’s James Milner and letting Craig Bellamy join Cardiff on loan.

Balotelli, 20, was quick to dismiss the reputation he earned as a troublemaker at former club Inter Milan, saying: “I am not a bad boy. I am just a normal guy.”

And Mancini is confident the £25m striker will grab headlines for his goalscoring exploits rather than the off-field rows that marred his time in Italy.

“All of us are said to be bad boys when we are young. But I have worked with Mario before and he is a normal person,” said Mancini, who coached Balotelli at Inter.

“He is young player, only 20 years old, who can do a lot in the Premier League.

“He has all the qualities needed to become a fantastic player.”

Balotelli could make his debut tomorrow night when City travel to FC Timisoara for the first leg of a Europa League qualifier.

England midfielder Milner (left), meanwhile, spent yesterday finalising his protracted move, after a fee was finally agreed and a pay-off negotiated with Steven Ireland.

Villa will receive at least £18m plus add-ons, with midfielder Ireland moving to the Midlands in part-exchange.

Also departing Eastlands is Bellamy, who called dropping down a division to join Cardiff, his hometown club, “the hardest decision in my career”.

Shay Given could be next, after Mancini hinted he may let the goalkeeper leave.