By Greg Stobart
Mario Balotelli is poised to fly to Italy as early as Monday evening ahead of a proposed medical as Manchester City and AC Milan near the final hours of negotiations over a transfer for the striker.
Goal.com understands that the 22-year-old said his goodbyes to team-mates and club staff after completing training at Carrington on Monday morning, and could travel to Milan over the next 24 hours.
Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola arrived in Manchester to present the Serie A side’s latest bid for the striker to City officials on Monday morning, as was exclusively revealed by Goal.com.
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The Premier League champions were understood to be holding out for £22 million from Milan, while also insisting that a 15% sell-on clause is added to any deal.
The Italian giants are willing to sell defender Philippe Mexes in order to free up around £3.8m-a-year on their wage bill and fund a move for Balotelli, with the 22-year-old willing to take a wage cut on his current £110,000-a-week salary.
The former Inter star has scored only one league goal for City this season and his relationship with manager Roberto Mancini took another turn for the worse after a very public training ground bust-up earlier in January.
That has led to the decision by director of football Txiki Begiristain to sanction Balotelli's departure, two-and-a-half years after he arrived at the Etihad Stadium from Inter in a £24m move.
Balotelli has already given notice on his rented house in Cheshire and has flown a number of his belongings back to Italy.
He also held an apparent farewell meal with friends at a Chinese restaurant in Manchester after growing homesick in the north west and expressing his desire to return to Italy following the birth of his first child.
Representatives from all three parties involved in the transfer have continually played down the prospect of a January move in public, yet they have been in almost daily contact as they look to resolve Balotelli's future.
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"Yesterday was 99.9% no, today is 99.5% no," he told reporters. "It is a situation different from that of yesterday, but the bag is closed until tomorrow morning."
Meanwhile, first-team coach David Platt says he "thinks" Balotelli is still a City player adding that he was confident the striker would remain with the club.
"I saw that speculation [on Sunday] but I've not heard anything," he told reporters.
"It's a shame Roberto's [Mancini] not here. He might know more than me but as far as we are concerned I think he is still a Manchester City player. I don't think there is anything is going to happen."
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