sport

Mario set for Milan medical

Manchester City's Mario Balotelli has agreed a four-and-a-half-year deal at AC Milan, and will have a medical on Wednesday.

The City striker has flown out to Italy after a deal was agreed with the Serie A giants that will end one of the most controversial Premier League careers.

"Transfer agreement for Balotelli signed with Manchester City," said Milan director Umberto Gandini on Twitter.

"Medicals tomorrow in Milan, then personal terms until 2017 signing."

It is believed Milan have agreed to pay around 20million for the player, with some of the fee being made up by bonuses.

City have so far made no comment on the matter.

As contracts are yet to be signed, a degree of caution is understandable.

However, providing there are no unforeseen hitches, Balotelli will join Milan ahead of Thursday's transfer deadline, thus ending a remarkable two-and-a-half-year stay with the Blues during which time the forward has attracted almost as many headlines for off-the-field incidents as success on it.

A member of City's starting line-up in the 2011 FA Cup final, when they ended a 35-year wait for a trophy, Balotelli also provided the crucial injury-time pass that set up Sergio Aguero for the dramatic Premier League title-winning goal at the Etihad Stadium last May.

Yet that momentous afternoon came just five weeks after manager Roberto Mancini had said Balotelli would never play for City again after the striker was sent off at Arsenal, having managed to avoid a red card for a dreadful challenge on Alex Song.

Such lapses in professionalism have scarred Balotelli's time with the Blues.

There have been numerous training ground bust-ups; only recently he had to be separated from his manager after he lunged in on Scott Sinclair, while his petulant on-pitch behaviour led to City imposing a fine which he threatened to challenge at a Premier League tribunal until finally backing down in December.

Through most of the controversy, Mancini has stood by a player he has paid special attention to since they were together at Inter Milan.

And, until this season, Balotelli's contribution on the pitch has been enough to keep Mancini and the City supporters on his side.

However, after returning from Euro 2012 with his reputation enhanced by a series of impressive performances, most notably the semi-final win against Germany when he scored twice, he has made negligible impact on the Blues' title defence.

He has made just two substitute appearances since a dire performance against Manchester United at the beginning of December, when he was handed a surprise start, but did little of note before being substituted in the second half.

Though Mancini and assistant David Platt have repeatedly stressed since then that Balotelli is going nowhere, rumours of a move to Italy have gained strength.

And now all that is required are the final touches to be put to the transfer of a player many will ultimately feel has been more trouble than he is worth.

Mancini has backed Balotelli to make the most of his return to Serie A.

He told Sky Sports News: "He had this big chance to come back to Italy and play for another top club like Milan.

"I hope Mario can continue to improve and show he's always ready because I think he can, if he works hard, continue growing and become one of the best players in the world.

"It's important for Mario to be in Italy with his family. I think that would be good for him."

Asked if City would be pursuing a replacement before the deadline, Mancini said: "We have only two days. This is difficult. It is difficult to get a player now."