• Italian striker left on sidelines purely because of his form
• £25.5m signing 'doesn't want to leave', says his agent
Mario Balotelli has no intention of leaving Manchester City despite the increasingly peripheral role he is playing for the club, culminating in being left out of the matchday squad for Sunday's win against Tottenham Hotspur.
Balotelli is still waiting for his first league goal of the season and watched the Spurs game from the stands after being informed his current form did not even warrant a place among Roberto Mancini's substitutes.
The £25.5m signing has frequently found himself out of the team – in 2012 he has started only 11 league matches – and this was the first time he had not even made the bench purely because of his form. Yet the message from the player's camp was clear. "He doesn't want to leave," his agent, Mino Raiola, said. "There's no player who is ever happy with not playing in a game, but he accepts it. It's all part of the game."
From City's perspective, there is clear frustration behind the scenes that a player who was recently nominated for the Ballon d'Or has done very little to justify it for his club, exacerbated by all the baggage that he tends to bring.
His relationship with Mancini has frequently been strained because of the length of time it has taken Balotelli to get anywhere close to the manager's impression of a footballer who could be regarded as next in line to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo with better application.
Balotelli, however, remains convinced he can establish himself in Mancini's team on a more permanent basis and Raiola dismissed the latest reports about a possible move back to Italy. "There is no [transfer to] Italy and no plans to go there," Raiola said. "He'll work until the end of his contract. It [Sunday] doesn't mean he wants to leave Manchester."
City turned down an approach from Internazionale in the summer, as well as a counteroffer from two other Italian clubs and Paris St-Germain. Inter have also reputedly spoken to City about the possibility of negotiating a transfer that would take him back to his former club in January.