Roberto Mancini has confirmed that Mario Balotelli's problems at Manchester City are due to a failure to settle in England.
Sportsmail revealed today that City's 20-year-old striker has told friends that he is chronically homesick and wants to return to his home country.
City are determined that coach Mancini can use his close personal bond with Balotelli to bring the £24million striker out of his shell, starting with this afternoon's game against Aston Villa in which the former Inter Milan man was handed a start.
But Mancini told Italian paper Gazzetta Dello Sport: 'He has to understand this country and this football before he can give his best.
'Mario is working on it and knows he has to do more for himself as well as for the team. When he assimilates this concept and makes use of his superior qualities, he'll become an important player.
'He can be decisive in every game, with any team. My assistant Brian Kidd has told me that Cristiano Ronaldo had Mario's same problems when he arrived at United and needed time to adjust.
'Mario is learning. Even a World Cup winner like (David) Silva struggled at the beginning. Silva has managed to, and now he's playing great.'
Balotelli has picked up five cards - four yellow and one red - in his 10 games for City and has scored the same number of goals. At times he has baffled City's staff and fans with his behaviour.
Dropped for the Boxing Day win at Newcastle, it is far from certain that he will start when City face Aston Villa at home in the Barclays Premier League on Tuesday afternoon.
One certain starter, though, is captain Carlos Tevez and Mancini claimed that the dispute over the South American's future is now over.
'That's the result of a fine work by our club,' he said. 'All sorted, crisis ended. He's one of the best strikers in the world, besides beeing a good person, with a really exceptional heart.
'Many clubs like Carlos, but he has a contract with City until 2014.'
Back in the groove: City captain Tevez scores his second against Newcastle on Boxing Day
With the transfer window due to open next week, City are hardening their efforts to buy Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg. Mancini admitted his interest and also his admiration for Benfica defender David Luiz.
'Dzeko is a player everyone likes,' he said. 'But there are many good players, (Newcastle United's) Andy Carroll, for example. Dzeko is experienced, has been scoring and winning for quite a while, even if he's only 24.
'Carrol is a 20-year-old. He has great qualities and potential. And everyone wants the best players.
'I don't like to waste money. This is why with City we aim for top players, because those are the ones you need to win.
Bobby dazzlers: Benfica defender Luiz (left) and Wolfsburg striker Dzeko are in Mancini's thoughts
'But I'm not looking now for strong 30-year-olds, but for good young players to build the future of City. You have to invest on young talent.
'Players like Luiz, whom so many admire, and who I consider to have all to become one of the best defenders in the world. But he's under contract at Benfica.'
Mancini also cheekily admitted that he would like to sign Wayne Rooney from Manchester United.
He said: 'I'd take Rooney to City. But he's a Ferguson player. United have been winning for 20 years. We're trying to start winning and I hope that before the next 20 years they'll talk of City like today they talk of United.
'United play with the assuredness that is a consequence of winning. We are working on that.'
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