Coutinho set to cushion Balotelli blow

MILAN - Inter Milan are unlikely to go splashing the cash from Mario Balotelli's sale on a big-name forward having already recruited exciting teenager Coutinho for the new season.

The European champions are selling Balotelli to Manchester City after running out of patience with the combustible 20-year-old, who was not a regular starter last term but found himself in a string of on and off-the-field incidents.

Letting go of one of the few homegrown talents to make the first team in a cosmopolitan squad has upset some fans but Inter believe they have other youngsters who can cover.

Brazilian 18-year-old Coutinho, signed by Inter in 2008 before staying on loan at his previous club Vasco da Gama until last month, wowed new coach Rafael Benitez during a pre-season tour of the United States and could force his way into the team.

"We're happy with the youngsters we saw in America - youngsters we had already seen. So we can stay calm," Inter owner Massimo Moratti told reporters when asked if last season's Serie A and Italian Cup winners would be making any big buys.

A move for Genoa midfielder Giuseppe Sculli is possible but Liverpool's Javier Mascherano has been deemed too expensive.

Moratti said he would only buy if he sells and having kept Maicon rather than letting the Brazil right back join former coach Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, there will only be the Balotelli money coming in and few options to spend it in attack.

Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan and Villarreal's Giuseppe Rossi have been linked with Inter in the media but the treble winners could decide to stick with what they have if Coutinho continues to impress with his fancy footwork and drive.

However, with Coutinho counting more as an attacking midfielder, Inter will only boast Diego Milito, Samuel Eto'o and Goran Pandev as strikers and defender Marco Materazzi feels that may not be enough for a league season starting at Bologna on August 30.

"I'm happy for Mario but we are weakened," he told Sky television ahead of Friday's friendlies in Bari with Juventus and AC Milan, final warmups before the August 21 Italian Super Cup with AS Roma and the European Super Cup with Atletico on August 27.

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