herald

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Mario makes attempt at blues truce

Balotelli withdraws appeal in effort to save City career

MANCHESTER City's Mario Balotelli has taken a leaf from Carlos Tevez's book and has launched a bid to patch things up with manager Roberto Mancini, in a final attempt to salvage his career at the club.

The Italian striker backed down from his decision to challenge a £340,000 club fine at a Premier League tribunal, and the Italian's agent, Mino Raiola, said last night that the 22-year-old was determined to fix things with Mancini (right) and a City coaching staff who are increasingly sceptical about the manager's faith in him.

Balotelli's decision is reminiscint of last year's climb down by Tevez, who refused to play for City and left England for his native Argentina, before returning to help the Blues win the Premier League title.

But Balotelli's career prospects at the club are hanging by a thread and the striker was persuaded that they would have been damaged irreparably had he allowed a QC to proceed yesterday with an appeal against the club's decision to fine him two weeks' wages.

It is understood that the change of heart, which came as the player's Italian lawyers prepared to present his case to the London tribunal, was not a result of an 11th-hour intervention from Mancini, who has not been closely following the latest Balotelli controversy as it has played out. Instead, it was the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) who made it clear that bringing the case and winning it could have severe ramifications for him. It is understood that the substantial legal costs racked up by a case involving solicitors and barristers are to be met equally by player and club.

The PFA believed that Balotelli would have won the case against City, who went outside disciplinary guidelines to claim that the player was in breach of contract last season because of his general disciplinary record. The guidelines only allow a player to be fined if he receives a sequence of yellow or red cards for either dissent or violent conduct, rather than a general sequence of cards. The players' union made it clear to Balotelli that the accumulation of disciplinary points for those two proscribed offences would have entitled City to charge him more than two weeks' wages, if they used the disciplinary guidelines as and when he committed those offences in the 2011/12 campaign. This argument might have been offered by City's QC, if the case had proceeded.

City are vindicated for their punishment of a player who has brought their club into disrepute and missed 21.7pc of last season's games through suspension. But it is understood that the PFA has pointed out to the club that they would be far better served operating within the guidelines agreed between the PFA, clubs and the Premier League.

A joint statement issued between the club and his representatives was notable for Balotelli's assertion that he had stood down "as a sign of respect for Roberto Mancini" - now his only ally at City. "After amicable talks between the parties, as a sign of respect for Roberto Mancini, the supporters and the club, Mario Balotelli has chosen to accept a two-week fine and withdraw his disciplinary appeal," the statement read.

With Mancini not even considering Balotelli for the side to play at Reading in two days, he is also preparing to go through the Christmas period without Samir Nasri, who is expected to be out for two weeks with a groin injury.

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