Asked if he had found Balotelli too hard to manage, Mancini said: "No, no, no, not for me. For me, Mario was like another of my children.
"But it is important for Mario - to be back in Italy, back with his family and to play for Milan.
"This is for Mario because we love Mario and he deserves to have this chance."
Ferguson would have been more than happy to see Balotelli's problem child persona causing ongoing havoc on the Manchester City training ground while the title race heats up.
As things stand, Manchester United can take a seven point lead at the top of the table if they beat Southampton tonight.