Santon - Mario a quiet boy
Balotelli's Italy team-mate says striker remains unsettled in England
By Simone Bargellini. Last Updated: January 3, 2012 1:54pm
Mario Balotelli: Scored twice when City beat Manchester rivals United 6-1 earlier in the season
Mario Balotelli's Premier League future remains in the balance according to his Italy team-mate Davide Santon.
The Manchester City striker has fallen foul of manager Roberto Mancini more than once in his time at the club since joining from Inter Milan in 2010.
Most recently his revelation that he smokes provoked Mancini into admitting he would kick him 'up the backside' if he were his father.
Balotelli looked to have settled down on the pitch in recent weeks with some consistent displays in the team - even if controversy still followed him off it.
But Santon, who became friends with the 21-year-old during their time together at Inter Milan, says the striker is still unsure about whether he will remain in England long term.
"We often speak and sometimes we meet," Santon told Sky Sport Italia. "He doesn't have a proper smoking habit, he is just a quiet boy who wants to have fun.
"I do not know what he wants to do in the future because sometimes he says he wants to return to Italy and sometimes he says he wants to stay a long time with City."
City are locked in a head-to-head battle with their neighbours and defending champions Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table.
And Santon believes the race to decide the top team in England will go down to the wire, adding: "I believe it will be a contest until the end of the season between the two Manchester teams - but I see City as favourites."
The highly-rated Santon joined the Magpies in a £5m summer move but his debut was delayed because of an injury to his right knee.
The injury meant that the full-back had to watch from the sidelines while fellow summer signing Demba Ba, who also has a history of knee problems, has emerged as the season's surprise package.
His brilliant displays have caught the eye of many scouts and Santon is hoping he will not be tempted away from the North East during the transfer window.
"He's doing very well and I know there are many clubs interested in him," he continued. "We hope he stays with us for a long time."