The clock is ticking down on the 2013 January transfer window and as the hours pass by the rumours and reports of an exit for Mario Balotelli begin to gain traction.
Prior to the weekend Roberto Mancini dismissed the idea of Balotelli departing, despite reports of a £17m bid from Milan and the trail ran a little cold. However, this evening (UK time) has seen plenty of speculation begin to gather.
It started with a 'is he, isn't he' guessing game as to whether Balotelli was in the squad that travelled down to London for tomorrow's game against QPR, with it being confirmed that he had boarded the train not with the team, but further in the journey.
Later in the evening though, Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri tweeted the following:
Sky Sports News: Juventus are in talks with #MCFC to sign Mario Balotelli and could be set to hijack Milan's move to sign him.— City Watch (@City_Watch) January 28, 2013
This was also confirmed by Jamie Jackson in The Guardian, who suggested that City are hoping the dual interest will push up the final asking price, even if it means a short term loan ahead of a move this summer:
Manchester City are in talks with Milan and Juventus over the transfer of Mario Balotelli and are exploring the option of loaning the striker out until the summer ahead of a permanent move.
The champions want around €23m (£19.75m) for the 22-year-old and it is understood that Milan have made an initial offer close to €20m. But last night, Juventus also entered the bidding with City hoping their interest would help push up the price. The player is keen to return to his homeland and is willing to take what represents a small pay cut regarding the terms on offer, which are €5m a year tax-free, plus a sizeable signing-on bonus.
City have been steadfast so far in their stance regarding any Balotelli departure, dismissing the notion that they would entertain selling him, despite the continual issues that they have faced with him.
Have they now reached a tipping point though where they are prepared to move on from him, despite his undeniable ability? We shall find out soon enough.