I will help Mario Balotelli 'grow up' at Manchester City - Patrick Vieira

Midfielder hopes to impart his experience to help City's youngsters...
Patrick Vieira insists that he will nurture young striker Mario Balotelli to "grow up" at Manchester City.

Apart from being touted as one of the biggest talents in Europe at the moment, the 20-year-old also has a reputation of having a temperamental nature on and off the pitch.

This was evident in his frosty relationship with former boss Jose Mourinho when the pair were at Inter, as the forward's antics saw him being dropped on several occasions - most notably during the second leg of the Champions League round of 16.

However, Vieira believes that the striker is misunderstood, while insisting that he will help the uncut diamond to reach his potential at Eastlands.

At the same time, the Frenchman also took a swipe at his former club, claiming that Inter may not have taught the youngster the difference between right and wrong.

"Don’t believe all that ­people have been saying about Balotelli," Vieira said, according to The Mirror. "He is young, he makes mistakes – but he is beginning to learn from them.

"I think people around him have to help, make him understand when he makes a mistake. Maybe in Italy, he was in an environment where people didn’t tell him when he was right and wrong.

"I think coming to England will make him grow up. He will have to learn to put his talent into the football club.

"We know each other really well from our time at Inter and I can tell you he is a lovely lad. I really like him as a person and I will do my best to help him because this club needs his talent. It is also an advantage for him that he is working again with Roberto Mancini because the manager knows him really well as a player and a person."

"Mario is misunderstood. He is not a bad guy. He loves football."

Now the 34-year-old believes that Balotelli must buckle down and train as hard as possible to ensure that he does not squander away his talent.

Vieira added: "But what he has to do now is keep his head down and work much harder than he has over the last few years if he wants to improve.

"If he listens and learns he will become a great player. Let me tell you that he will score lots of goals. If he shoots 10 times, he will hit the target nine times and score seven. He is a natural goalscorer."

For his part, Vieira himself was a relatively unknown player with much to prove when he first arrived at Arsenal, where he went on to become a mainstay in the Gunners midfield.

"When I was at Arsenal for the first three years, the so-called back four were a big influence on me," he said. 
"It was they way they went about their training every day, their determination. They always told me to play the same way you train. You have to give your best in training to get your best form in the games.

"The guys at Arsenal were fantastic for me. They showed me the way and I was a good listener and I learned a lot."

Now the ageing midfielder hopes to impart his experience City's youngsters, with a view to moulding the starlets into the big guns of tomorrow.

"I think I can play the same kind of role at City now I have 15 years of experience at the top," he continued. "There are big differences with young ­players now because they are earning more than we used to.

"It’s not just young footballers who have changed, it is society in general.

"But young players are earning more than we used to and they sometimes think that they know everything and I say, ‘No, is not the case’.

"I know from experience they have to keep a plan in their head and keep working.

"We see so many talented players who play at the top for a year or two and disappear instead of making a career of 15 years."

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