Enigmatic Balotelli confounds Zabaleta
Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta says team-mate Mario Balotelli has a complex character that is difficult to deal with.
Zabaleta concedes Balotelli has had his fair share of controversy since his arrival in Manchester, but insists that, despite his problems, the forward is destined for great things.
The 27-year-old believes the Italy international has the potential to vie for football's most prestigious awards, and is adamant the striker has the right club and manager to help him achieve these feats.
"Since Mario arrived he has done positive and negative things," Zabaleta told Omnisport.
"He is a player, a person too, who is very difficult to understand because you never know what he is going to come up with next.
"As a player sometimes not all you have in the feet you have in the head and Mario is a character that, as a team-mate, sometimes you laugh at what he does and sometimes you want to kill him. But in the end he is a great person.
"As a player he has a great talent. If he wanted I don't know if he would be fighting the Ballon d'Or with Messi and Cristiano (Ronaldo) but he would be close to being one of the best strikers in the world.
"As a player, as I said before, he has done good and bad things at this club, but I think there is nobody better than (City manager) Roberto (Mancini), who had him at Inter and brought him here, to make Mario able to be mentally prepared to want to carry on growing."
The former Espanyol defender also had high praise for City boss Mancini, who he believes has brought success back to the club after a long wait for silverware.
"I think that Roberto is a manager that arrived at the club with the mission of consolidating the project that Manchester City started in 2008," he said.
"The club hadn't won practically anything in 44 years and it was possible to win important titles like the FA Cup and the Premier League last year, and I think the people of Manchester City acknowledge Mancini’s work.
"What he has done so far is great, but once you achieve these important things you have to stay the same, trying to consolidate this great project by winning more titles.
"Mancini is the manager and the people have given their backing to him, especially after the matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea. Right now he is the manager and he will know how to work in the future."