Mario Balotelli given new year challenge by Roberto Mancini

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has challenged Mario Balotelli to improve his behaviour in the new year.

Italian striker Balotelli, 21, has scored 11 goals this season but has been the subject of controversy for some of his off-field antics.

"I hope the new year can bring a different way for him," said Mancini.

"If he wants to play well and have a good private life, he should have good behaviour always, not for one week yes and then change for two days."

Balotelli joined City in August 2010 and has been involved in a number of incidents away from the pitch.

His form this season has helped City top the Premier League table for much of the campaign, but Mancini insists the Italian international must improve his attitude if he wants to fulfil his potential.

"Mario can improve every week and every month," Mancini continued. "He is young and when you are a young player, you improve always.

"Every top player has a good private life and a good behaviour - they are the first in training every day. This is the way it needs to be for him."

Balotelli scored a brace of goals in his side's 6-1 win against Manchester United in October, despite escaping from a firework blaze at his Cheshire home less than 48 hours before the game.

He threw a dart at a youth team player in March, was substituted by Mancini for showboating in a pre-season friendly and has been sent off three times since joining from Inter Milan.

Balotelli was also involved in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Micah Richards last week and was linked to a similar incident with Jerome Boateng in December 2010.

Top Stories