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Balotelli sets City exit date

Italian youngster sets sights on return to Milan

By Simone Bargellini.   Last Updated: 18/01/11 1:33pm

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Balotelli: Injury boost

Balotelli: Injury boost

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Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has admitted he would like to join AC Milan within two years.

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The Italy international, who confirmed he would not need surgery on his knee injury, joined City only last summer on a five-year deal from Inter Milan.

But the 20-year-old has already been linked with a return to Italy having met with Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani on a visit home in November and the Rossoneri were on the look-out for a new striker during the current transfer window.

Instead the Serie A leaders signed Antonio Cassano after his contract dispute with Sampdoria, while City have boosted their frontline by swooping for Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg.

In Dzeko, himself and top scorer Carlos Tevez, Balotelli believes the ambitious Blues now have the world's best strikeforce.

But he admits he would relish the opportunity to link up with Cassano and his former Inter team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the Milan attack.

"Do I envy Cassano for going to AC Milan? A little," Balotelli told Italian newspaper Extra Time.

"(Milan owner) Silvio Berlusconi said that Cassano is the best Italian talent - he's wrong or doesn't know Balotelli.

Happy at City

"Me with Ibra and Cassano at Milan? It'll happen soon. For this year, and another, I will stay at City where I'm fine."

Balotelli is currently sidelined after a recurrence of the knee problem he picked up on his City debut in August.

He has not featured since scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa on 28th December and was expected to be out until the season's second Manchester derby at United on 12th February.

But the Italian star has now allayed fears he would require more surgery and he could return to action sooner than expected.

"My knee still gives me trouble but the cartilage is okay," he said. "I don't need another operation. In a few weeks I'll be back on the field."

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