The following is a roundup of soccer stories from U.K. newspapers, with clickable links to the Web.
Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is facing a nine- game ban after the Football Association said it’s reviewing his tackle on Arsenal’s Alex Song that went unpunished during a Premier League match two days ago, the Daily Mail reported.
Balotelli, who will miss three games after getting sent off late in City’s 1-0 loss at Arsenal, could be banned for a further three matches for his tackle on Song and then for another three because that would count as his fourth red card of the season, the newspaper said. Referee Martin Atkinson missed the knee-high challenge on Song, the Mail added.
Striker Says Sorry
Balotelli apologized to City manager Roberto Mancini for his red card against Arsenal and said he’ll discuss his future at the club at the end of the season, the Sun reported.
Mancini said after the loss at Arsenal that the Italian striker wouldn’t play again this campaign and would “probably” be traded in the off-season, the newspaper added.
“Maybe Roberto said those things because a defeat is hard to swallow,” the Sun cited Mino Raiola, Balotelli’s agent, as saying. “I think there was a misunderstanding.”
Mancini is fighting for his future as City’s manager and needs the team to finish the season strongly to strengthen his case for a new contract, the Guardian reported.
Formal talks regarding a new deal are scheduled to start in May and Mancini’s current agreement has a year remaining, the newspaper said. City has taken five points from its last five games to trail league leader Manchester United by eight points with six games remaining.
Mancini will overhaul his squad if he keeps his job with Balotelli, Carlos Tevez, Edin Dzeko, Nigel de Jong and Kolo Toure to leave if City can find buyers at the right price, the Daily Express reported.
Loaned players including Emmanuel Adebayor, Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz also will be sold to raise funds for new acquisitions, the newspaper said. Arsenal’s Robin van Persie is the top target with Lille’s Eden Hazard and Napoli duo Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi also wanted, the Express added.
Manchester United is ready to join the chase for Birmingham City’s teenage goalkeeper Jack Butland, who’s rated at 3 million pounds ($4.7 million), the Daily Mirror reported.
The 19-year-old, who has represented England at under-21 level and is yet to play for Birmingham’s first team, is also being tracked by Arsenal, the Mirror added.
Dalglish Risks Rap
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish risks being charged by the Football Association after he questioned the integrity of match officials and criticized “inexcusable” decisions that he said have gone against his team in the past three games, the Guardian reported.
Dalglish also called for officials to explain key decisions, saying it would be “helpful and more transparent,” the Guardian added.
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