Mancini was involved in a heated, physical exchange with the Italian international during a training session (per The Guardian). This had left many to think that the enigmatic 22-year-old could be set for a departure from the club over the current winter transfer window as Manicini's patience finally wore out.
However, the exact opposite appears to be true.
Speaking out before his side's FA Cup clash, the City manager said that what happened at training between him and Balotelli was not a fight and that there would be no further repercussions for the Italian's behavior (per BBS Sport):
It wasn't bad. We were playing a game, Mario kicked his team-mate and I said to him "go inside, leave the pitch". He said "no" so I took his shirt and pushed him off the pitch. This is really what happened—nothing special.
Mario is like this but my thoughts [on his future] do not change—this is not important. The problem could be himself. If he doesn't change, for him it will be very difficult in the future. For him, not me.
Mario could stay with me one day, one month, five years. He is 22 years old. He needs to change. His problem is for himself.
I will give him another 100 chances if I think it's possible he can change. I give him another chance because he is 22 and he can make a mistake.
The images that emerged from the incident via The Daily Mail did not make for pleasant viewing, with both the manager and the striker clearly upset at each other.
Mancini was snapped pulling and yelling at the striker before having to be restrained from having a further go at him as both stormed off.
The issue marks yet another blimp in Super Mario's less-than-impressive track record, which is littered with instances and issues from his time at various clubs.
He was only just warned by Mancini to lift his game this season, though you'd have to think that this was not what the manager had in mind.
With Sergio Agero out for another two weeks (per The Telegraph), Balotelli could very well see playing time in the starting team or the substitutes bench for the Manchester club—as he did when Aguero was injured earlier in the year.
If he does not improve in that time—both on and off the pitch—then surely Manchester City must finally cut their losses and move on from the Italian international. He isn't helping their performances in the Premier League and he isn't helping raise team morale either; surely there comes a time when the club recognizes the 22-year-old is no longer a wanted commodity.
Mancini might be willing to give Balotelli "100 chances" to change and become the strong, talented footballer that he has the potential to become.
But is he really ready to give them out, time and time again?
After all, this is Balotelli and he might just need every one of them.
Should Manchester City sell or keep Mario Balotelli at the club?
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