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Balotelli completes AC Milan move
Mario Balotelli has completed his much-hyped move from Manchester City to AC Milan.
Both clubs have confirmed the Italy striker has concluded the formalities of the reported £19million switch and signed a four-and-a-half-year contract. The deal brings to an end an extraordinary spell at City in which Balotelli attracted as many headlines for off-field controversies as for his performances on it.
A statement read: "AC Milan announces that it has acquired from Manchester City Mario Balotelli, who has signed a contract until June 30, 2017."
The 22-year-old, who has already been pictured in Rossoneri colours after a chaotic arrival back in his homeland, will officially be presented as a Milan player on Friday evening.
Balotelli missed City's game at QPR on Tuesday after a price was agreed with Milan which, rising to £22million, leaves the English champions just short of the £24million they paid Inter Milan for him in 2010. The news sparked huge interest in Italy and Balotelli was swamped by reporters, photographers and fans as he arrived at a clinic in Milan to undergo his medical.
There were also reports of police being called to disperse unruly crowds outside a restaurant where he met club officials. Balotelli returned to the club's offices on Thursday morning to formally sign the deal.
Balotelli made a huge impression at City - not always for footballing reasons - but he played key roles in the FA Cup win of 2011 and last year's title success.
He told City's website, www.mcfc.co.uk: "For sure I will remember my brilliant team-mates, the manager and all the supporters. They are the best, they were great with me and I will always have a very special place in my heart for City, it's a great club with a great future. I thank them for all of their support of me."
Balotelli paid tribute to City manager Roberto Mancini as he left. Mancini was often heavily critical of his fellow Italian but, ultimately, was fiercely loyal and forgave him for many of his indiscretions.
Balotelli said: "Yes, I said goodbye to everyone at the meal in London before the game at QPR. It was very emotional for me. I spoke with Roberto before I went to speak to the players. We spoke for some time about lots of things. He was sad, and I was too. I love Roberto, he has been very important for my career, and I will always thank him for having trust and faith in me."