Balotelli was not in the starting 11for the Boxing Day win at Newcastleand is far from certain of makingRoberto Mancini's team for the visitof Aston Villa in the Barclays PremierLeague today.
Sources close to him revealedyesterday that the former Inter Milanstar is finding it painfully hard tosettle in to a new country and isstruggling to form any close friendshipsin England.
Moody Mario: Balotelli has shown two sides to his character since his move in the summer
Indeed, he hasalready told friends in Italy that hesimply wants to move back home.At City, Mancini and his staffcontinue to work hard with Balotelli,20, and still believe his exceptionaltalent can be coaxed to the surface ifhe is handled the right way.
Certainly,there is no way they would sanction amove home, just five months aftersigning him for £24million.
However, those close to the strikerlast night told of a deeply unhappyand troubled young man who is alreadyconvinced that his high-profile move isnot going to work out.
Father figure: Mancini thinks his relationship with Balotelli will help get the best out of him
He has told friends he understandsthe potential for successand development at City isthere and he appreciates thechance to work with Mancini.
Indeed, Balotelli spent timeworking one-on-one with himafter training yesterday.Away from the field, though,he has spoken of being miserableand it is obvious this isaffecting his football.
Despite the obvious talentthat persuaded Mancini topay so much for him in thesummer, Balotelli has shockedCity fans with his bizarrebehaviour. In the 10 appearanceshe hasmade thisseason, theItaly strikerhas scored five goals but has pickedup as many cards four yellows anda red.
At Newcastle on Boxing Day, forexample, he only appeared as a substitutewith five minutes remaining andstill managed to get booked.
He thenhad to be publicly told by Mancini toapplaud City's travelling fans at theend of the game.And earlier this season, Balotelliscored two goals in a Premier Leaguegame at West Bromwich Albion butwas then sent off for picking up twobookings.City will not give up on him.
Manciniworked hard to bring Balotelli toEastlands during protracted negotiationsand believes he can get the bestout of him as he did when he managedhim at the San Siro.
Having seen the striker fail to get onwith last season's Inter coach JoseMourinho, Mancini believed he coulduse his own relationship with Balotellito positive effect. Perhaps what hedidn't expect was to see the strikerfail to adapt to life outside Italy.
Comments attributed to Balotelliin Italy seem to offer conflictingviews of his state of mind. But it isknown he returns home to Milanwhenever he can, sometimesgoing to extreme lengths toget there for fleeting visits.
Green grass of home: Balotelli - pictured here during his days at Inter - still makes regular trips back to Milan
He may not start, butBalotelli will certainlybe in Mancini's squadto take on Villa today.
The City managerknows that on hisday he can bringthings to the PremierLeague' ssecond-placedteam that noother player iscapable of.
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