Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has hinted that Mario Balotelli will play a key role in the visit to Villarreal in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Balotelli, 21, was rested in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wolves, a win which maintained their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
“I left Mario out because I can’t play with three strikers,” said Mancini. “Sergio Aguero needs to play after injury and Edin Dzeko played very well and scored on Wednesday. Sometimes it is important to rest and we play in a few days.
“The last 25 minutes we were playing with 10 men it was very hard for the players and now they have to recover very well.”
Balotelli admits he is now settled in England, believing the club are getting the best out of him and is thankful to Mancini.
“I’m happy, I train good and I feel good and that’s how it should be always.
“I’m getting better all the time. The real Mario is coming now and it isn’t the same Mario as last year.
“With Mancini I feel very comfortable. I’ve known him a long time and he’s a good manager,” the Italian continued.
“He believes in me – even when no one in England believed in me, he did. And he kept on believing in me. I want to do something important here with him.”
Balotelli is clearly reveling in his new-found popularity among City fans and he was afforded a hero’s welcome when he was brought on as a 70th-minute substitute for Samir Nasri.
The 21-year-old came close with one shot and laid on a third goal for Adam Johnson in the first minute of injury-time.
Balotelli now has his eyes set on helping City dominate in Europe as they have, thus far this season, domestically. “We could be the best in Europe,” Balotelli said. “We have a lot of good players.
“Barcelona have a lot of great strikers – Messi is at another level. We have many players who are at the same level, some are a little bit more or a little bit less. There are not many teams who are like this.
“It means whoever we play we will score and play well. It doesn’t matter who plays, we can win. If rotation happens to me, it is normal. We are in a team where everyone can be changed.”