Soccer

Italy striker Balotelli arrives in Milan to finalize move

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Associated Press
1/30/2013 12:32:14 PM
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MILAN, Italy -- Italy striker Mario Balotelli landed in Milan to frenzied scenes on Wednesday to finalize his move from Manchester City to AC Milan.

Milan announced on Tuesday it reached an agreement with City and that Balotelli would sign a 4 1/2-year deal following a medical exam.

The official presentation will likely be on Friday at San Siro.

Balotelli arrived on a private plane along with club vice-president Adriano Galliani.

"It's been a long time that I've wanted to play for Milan, but obviously I was playing for other clubs so I couldn't come here," Balotelli said upon arrival at Malpensa airport, wearing a Milan scarf around his neck. "Now I had the opportunity and I ran."

He went straight to a hospital in Busto Arsizio, where he was greeted by a frenzied crowd of more than a hundred fans, eager to catch a glimpse of their new idol.

The car struggled through the crowds and eventually was forced to stop in front of a different entrance.

Balotelli left the hospital after three hours and headed back to Milan and dinner with Galliani, where he was greeted by several hundred fans waiting outside the restaurant.

The supporters chanted and let off flares. One of the chants was "He who doesn't jump is nerazzurro (an Inter fan") -- Balotelli and Galliani both jumped.

The celebrations were marred after fighting broke out between ultras and police. Bottles were thrown and a policeman was taken to hospital after he was hit on the head

Balotelli has spent a turbulent 2 1/2 years in English football since joining City from Milan's city rival, Inter, in 2010 and his form has dipped this season as matters off the pitch continue to overshadow his talent on it.

"I didn't start this season very well with City but now I hope to do well," Balotelli said. "I knew, inside of me, that sooner or later I would get here. I made important decisions to come here and I hope that they are good for both me and Milan."

Balotelli will reportedly be taking a pay cut to move to the club he has supported since childhood.

Milan will pay City (euro)20 million ($27 million) plus bonuses for the 22-year-old.

"I certainly don't need to present Mario Balotelli to you," Galliani said. "It is a dream come true and one that we all wanted, starting from President Silvio Berlusconi on the front line.

"With Mario's arrival we strengthen our squad a great deal. We worked hard on this and Mario has been in our hearts for some time, so we finally managed to get him."

Mario Balotelli (Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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