City Eye Spaniard as Balotelli Replacement - Report

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | January 30, 2013 10:11 PM EST

Premier League champions Manchester City are considering Barcelona striker David Villa, according to the Mirror. The World Cup-winning forward is to be a replacement for Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who has moved to Serie A club AC Milan; the 22-year-old former Inter Milan forward will have a medical on Wednesday and complete a £17m (initial fee) transfer to the San Siro.

Ex-Valencia striker David Villa is a reported target for both Roberto Mancini and Arsene Wenger, as they look to replace Balotelli and Robin van Persie, respectively. The Gunners were strongly linked with the 31-year-old forward in the build-up to the January transfer window but following comments from the Nou Camp, speculation eased.

However, following transfer demands from Villa himself (and the fact the striker has only 18 months left on his contract) could see the Spaniard engineer a mid-season move, with Arsenal again interested. He will have to move fast though, the transfer window closes at midnight on Thursday, 31 January.

City's interest in the Sporting Gijon youngster reportedly comes from Mancini's desire to maintain his striker count of four. The Etihad club, with Balotelli's departure, have the Argentine pair of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Agüero and Bosnian Edin Dzeko. And with uncertainty over both Tevez and Agüero's future at the club, Villa's experience and quality could be exactly what Mancini needs to counter the threat of van Persie at Old Trafford.

The champions will hope the presence of former Barcelona officials - Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain - will help ease negotiations for Villa, for whom they are willing to pay £15m.

The striker, meanwhile, has had a poor season in Spain, since recovering from a broken leg in December, 2011. He has been unable to dislodge either one of compatriots Pedro and Cesc Fabregas or Chilean international Alexis Sanchez from the starting line-up. The central striking role, of course, is reserved for Argentine Lionel Messi.

Nevertheless, his record of 12 goals and two assists from 27 appearances suggests there are still plenty of goals left in the veteran, something both Arsenal and City will welcome.

Mancini on Striker Signing

However, there appears to be some confusion over the arrival of a replacement for Balotelli, with Mancini unsure of signing a player in the time available.

"We only have two days and it is difficult to buy a good player in this moment," he said, adding the loss of Balotelli could be important over the next few months.

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