Mario Balotelli made it clear he has no plans to leave AC Milan amid speculation about his future with the January transfer window leading to a fresh batch of rumors.
Goal passed along comments the striker made to Italian outlet Chi in which he talks about staying put with World Cup preparations taking center stage:
However, Balotelli, who has been linked with a reunion with former Inter boss Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, insists that there is no chance of him leaving San Siro this month.
"I am staying at Milan," the striker is quoted by Chi. "I have to get ready for the World Cup and stay calm."
Balotelli's remarks come after Milan had issued a statement to the media in which they denied any potential deal despite the ongoing speculation, via BeIN Sports:
AC Milan denies absolutely and vehemently the statements that have been attributed to the president of Milan about a possible placement of Mario Balotelli on the market.
Quite simply, Milan can't afford to lose Balotelli after struggling out of the gate. They currently sit in 11th place, 10 points behind Hellas Verona for the final European berth, which is a major disappointment for the storied club.
Losing their top offensive threat in Balotelli, who has netted a club-high six goals in 13 league appearances, would only further the struggles. If the Rossoneri are going to climb out of their current hole in the second half, they will need the Italian international clicking on all cylinders.
From a personal perspective, switching clubs and having to re-acclimate himself with a new squad isn't an ideal situation for Balotelli with the World Cup on the horizon. Italy will likely lean heavily on him next summer, and making sure he's in top form is crucial.
So for both club and player stability seems like the best route. Balotelli leaving San Siro always seemed like a long shot since he arrived less than one year ago, but now that both AC Milan and Balotelli have downplayed the rumors, the speculation should fade away.
The focus will now shift toward getting Milan back on track over the final months of the campaign.