Roberto Mancini has revealed Mario Balotelli left Manchester City in 2013 because he fell out with his team-mates – and not because of a training ground bust-up with him.
Balotelli, who is now resurrecting his career at Nice after leaving Liverpool, left the Etihad Stadium to go on loan to Milan after pictures showed the confrontation between the two Italians.
But the former Inter Milan boss, who signed Balotelli in 2010, said: “He was in conflict with some of his team-mates because of his behaviour. He wanted to return to Italy. I was disappointed he wanted to go but he should have done a lot more in a league which is extraordinary.
“In a training session, I said to players not to make stupid tackles on Gael (Clichy) because he was just coming back from injury. And then, Mario made a strong tackle on him. I was furious. I grabbed by the collar wanting to push him but he is so strong physically I couldn’t move him! From seeing the pictures, you would think that we came to blows but nothing happened.”
Balotelli, now 26, has scored six goals in five appearance in Ligue 1 but was only called up once by former Italy boss Antonio Conte and missed Euro 2016.
“If Mario today doesn’t play for the Italy side, it is his fault,” Mancini told L’Equipe. “It is incredible that he is not the starting centre-forward for his national side. He is the best Italian striker of the last few years. I hope Mario understands that he has to have a different attitude and think only about football. It is not that difficult.”