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Balotelli taunts United rival

Italian star hails City strikeforce

By Simone Bargellini.   Last Updated: 18/01/11 10:04am

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Balotelli: Has derby dream

Balotelli: Has derby dream

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Mario Balotelli has stoked the derby flames ahead of next month's Old Trafford clash by claiming Wayne Rooney is not the best striker in Manchester.

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The City star is a big admirer of Rooney and has named his United team-mate Nemanja Vidic as the best defender in the Premier League.

But with City having swooped for Edin Dzeko this month, Balotelli believes the ambitious Blues now have the world's best strikeforce in himself, Dzeko and former United striker Carlos Tevez.

"He (Rooney) is a very good player but not the best in Manchester," Balotelli told Italian newspaper Extra Time.

Conviction

"Our attack of Balotelli-Tevez-Dzeko is the best in the world - better even than Barcelona and Real Madrid. We are the strongest and we can win things now - we just lack conviction."

City are leading the chase of United in the Premier League title race and the derby rivals go head-to-head at Old Trafford on 12th February.

Balotelli was expected to be out until then after suffering a recurrence of his knee problem, which has sidelined him since scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa on 28th December.

But the 20-year-old has now allayed fears he would require more surgery and he could return to action sooner than expected.

The Italy international's comments are sure to anger United fans but he claims he has only felt goodwill from City's derby rivals.

"Do United fans insult me? No, they stop me in the street and say: 'Mario, come to us'," Balotelli added.

"But I dream of beating them because I know how much the City fans care, they are wonderful with me. When they sang my name after the hat-trick, I had chills."

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