Paper Round: Balotelli sorry but faces nine-game ban
Mario Balotelli’s apology to Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini features on the back pages, but the FA are set to impose a heavy sanction on the Italian for his latest red card.
The Daily Mail have tallied up his offences and believe Balotelli could miss nine games through suspension – long enough to run into next season.
The key to the Mail’s logic is that if Balotelli’s studs-up challenge on Alex Song during the Arsenal match, which went unpunished, is retrospectively treated as a red card offence, it could up the striker’s punishment considerably.
Balotelli, who was sent off for two yellow cards in spite of that tackle being missed, misses a game for his red card and two more because it was his third red of the season.
The violent challenge on Song could cost another three matches if treated as a sending off, with an additional three-game ban because it was then in effect his fourth red of the campaign.
Still with us? Well, Balotelli’s team-mates are not, apparently. The dressing room has lost patience with the striker, the Mail adds, and would be happy to see him leave in the summer.
If Balotelli goes, it would only add to the colossal loss that Manchester City are set to make on their strikeforce this summer.
Carlos Tevez (£47m), Roque Santa Cruz (£18m), Emmanuel Adebayor (£25m), Edin Dzeko (£27m) and Balotelli (£23m) could all be moved on, but not one of them is expected to recoup the transfer fees that City shelled out.
The Times has done the maths, and reckon that will come to a loss of around £60m – and that’s before their wealthy owners from Abu Dhabi splash the cash on replacements.
But it’s not all bad news for Balotelli and City – The Sun believe that his apology may be just enough to earn Mancini’s protégé a final chance at the club.
Another player set to move on at a loss when he next changes club is Liverpool’s Andy Carroll, and the Mail reveals that the striker is struggling to come to terms with his £35m price tag.
Britain’s most expensive footballer “has admitted privately” his struggle, apparently, and might well be a bit surprised to then see these private thoughts on the back page of the paper.
It’s not every day that Barcelona look to the Premier League for a talented youngster, but the Daily Mirror reports that 16-year-old Manchester City prospect Ashley Smith-Brown is on their radar after impressing on international duty.
Barcelona aren’t the only big club eyeing rising stars, either – the same paper reports that Manchester United are ready to join the chase for £3m-rated teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland, currently on loan at Cheltenham from Birmingham. Arsenal are also watching his progress closely.
Chelsea are hot on the heels of 17-year-old Paraguayan striker Mauro Caballero, although they’ll face competition from Bayern Munich if they want to bring him to Europe from his club Libertad.
And in a final piece of transfer tittle-tattle, the Sun suggest that Arsenal forward Carlos Vela would prefer to stay in Spain, where is on loan at Real Sociedad, rather than go back to the Gunners at the end of the season.