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SERIE A

Mario Balotelli can leave Brescia on a free transfer in January, says club president Massimo Cellino

Mario Balotelli's spell at hometown club Brescia could come to an end next month after just eight Serie A appearances and a couple of goals.

Balotelli is free to leave Brescia in January, says president Cellino

Brescia will allow Mario Balotelli to leave the club on a free transfer in next month's transfer window the Italian club's president Massimo Cellino has announced. The former Manchester City, Liverpool and AC Milan striker joined his hometown club Brescia back in August and has scored just two goals (against Napoli and Hellas Verona) in eight Serie A appearances. The 29-year-old, who played the full 90 minutes in Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Atalanta, has endured a tumultuous return to Italy, with several incidents overshadowing his performances. Brescia sit bottom of Serie A on seven points from 13 games.

In an away Serie A clash with Hellas Verona last month, he kicked a ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch after being subjected to monkey chants by home supporters. That was followed by a training ground spat with head coach Fabio Grosso, which saw him dropped ahead of the 3-0 defeat to Roma on 24 November. In the wake of that incident, Cellino said Balotelli was "black and is working on lightening up, but he is facing troubles". The word nero in Italian means black but can also be used for 'gloomy', as in a person's state of mind.

Cellino: "I don't want Balotelli to leave"

Cellino concedes Balotelli's time at the club has not gone to plan and says he will not stand in his way if he wants to leave next month. "Mario is sad because he can't express himself as he would like on the pitch," Cellino told Le Iene. "For him to play in Serie A is a big sacrifice; maybe he thought it would be simpler. In January, he is free to leave on a free transfer. Right now, he has to choose which road he wants to take - up or down. He has to convince himself. I don't want him to go. If he leaves, we have both lost the bet."

Cellino moved to play down his recent remarks about the striker, denying there were any racist undertones. "I wanted to play it all down, but I overdid it," he added. "Me, racist? I'm Catholic, I can't be. What did I mean by 'he's clearing himself up'? If you don't like him, does it mean this boy must be cleared up to be accepted? I spoke with him, it wasn't me who offended him. When my joke was written in that way [by the media], I was more worried about Mario than anything else. My comment was manipulated. I said b******t, I do jokes too. After Verona, I told him to buy a can of paint, so he will make all these b******s happy. They are a******s that go to the stadium to offend players. Mario is not a warrior who challenges everyone, it is not so. Mario has to make people know that he's suffering."