Roberto Mancini says Manchester City have no intention of selling Mario Balotelli and will give the forward time to realise his potential.
Mancini handed Balotelli a surprise start in the Manchester derby on Sunday but, after the 3-2 defeat, expressed frustration that the player “continues to throw his quality out of the window”.
The comments only added to speculation that the Italy forward could return to his homeland, with AC Milan having been repeatedly linked with a January move. However, owner Silvio Berlusconi recently said Balotelli would be “too expensive” - echoing recent remarks from the player’s agent - and Mancini says he is prepared to be patient.
“We will not sell Balotelli,” he told Sky Sport. “A player of his quality must think exclusively about his work and his family. He has talent and cannot waste it as he has been doing. He has the ability to change games at any time.
“Balotelli is a City player. He is loved by both the fans and the management here. Our paths may split if I change my team, but he is a City player and will remain at City.”
Speaking at a function in Italy, as quoted by the Daily Mail, he added: “We are waiting for the moment he becomes aware of his talent. That is why he is not for sale.”
Mancini also all but ruled out a fresh move for Roma legend Daniele De Rossi. The Italy midfielder, 29, has long been linked with a move to Eastlands but announced in the summer that he wanted to remain with his hometown club.
He does not appear to fit into new coach Zdenek Zeman’s plans this season and Roma general manager Franco Baldini had indicated that the club would be willing to consider fresh offers, but he then backtracked on those remarks.
Mancini told Sky Sport: “We tried to get him in the summer but it ended there.” He added at the function that he did not expect De Rossi to leave Roma "at this point".
Wesley Sneijder, currently out of favour at Inter Milan and facing a highly uncertain future as he refuses to accept a new contract under reduced terms, has also been linked with City on more than one occasion, but Mancini is not interested.
“We have never made any contact,” he said. “Wesley has great qualities, but we have other players in that position.”