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Mancini: Balotelli makes me want to punch him

The Italian, speaking before Balotelli's latest escapade - a minor car accident on Thursday - told reporters that he did not speak to his young compatriot every day because if he did he would need to see a psychologist.

Mancini, preparing his team for their must-win Premier League match at Arsenal on Sunday, said he could see why Balotelli's team mates were infuriated by him.

"I can understand it. I told him 'if you played with me, 10 years ago, I'd punch you in the head every day'," Mancini said.

"I understand his team-mates but there are different ways to help guys like Mario. In every big game, he has played very well. His problem is his concentration but I work with him every day.

"I speak with him - not every day because I'd need a psychologist - but every two days I speak with him. He doesn't lose his quality. Mario, as a player, can be one of the top in Europe. I don't want him to lose his talent."

Balotelli, 21, who is rarely out of the headlines for long, was making them again on Thursday with front page stories about his private life. Later the same day, his car was involved in a collision with another vehicle in Manchester city centre.

The striker, who drives a Bentley, walked away unscathed and is expected to be fit for Sunday's encounter, but police confirmed a passenger from one of the vehicles had been taken to hospital as a precaution.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police read: "Shortly after 3:15pm on Thursday 5 April 2012, police were called to Medlock Street, Manchester City Centre to reports of a collision between two cars.

"The passenger of one of the cars was taken to hospital for precautionary measures. Inquiries are ongoing."

Balotelli, who earlier this season caused damage at his home when fireworks were let off inside the property, has been in the news throughout the last two weeks after making an unexpected appearance at a press conference at his former club Inter Milan.

Then he had a row at the training ground with manager Mancini and last weekend, an altercation team-mate Aleksandar Kolarov over a free-kick during their 3-3 draw with Sunderland.

Despite scoring two goals, Balotelli's performance was criticised by Mancini, who said he considered taking him off after only five minutes.

However, Mancini still retains his belief in the player he has known since Balotelli was a boy.

Mancini said: "There are some people who think bad things against other people, like Mario. Every time Mario does something, it's like a war.

"There are other people on and off the pitch that do worse than Mario and no-one says anything because maybe they play for an important team or are not like Mario."