Last month Roberto Mancini fell back into typical in loco parentis mode when talking of his loco bambino Mario Balotelli. Asked by Gazzetta dello Sport if there was any truth to the escalating rumours of the infuriatingly erratic striker leaving Manchester City in January on loan he said “The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something. I love him because for many years we live together. I’ve seen him grow.”

Yet the evidence to the contrary was impossible to discount with Balotelli finding himself increasingly frozen out and firmly consigned to fourth billing in the pecking order behind Aguero, Tevez and Dzeko, forwards who Mancini openly criticised for their shortage of goals yet continued to favour. On the rare occasions this term Balotelli has been granted a cameo he has underwhelmed and been largely anonymous and with a mystery ‘illness’ explaining absences and the bizarre threat of the player taking the club to a tribunal recently for a perceived excessive fine it became clear that the fiery love/hate relationship between both Italians had now tilted irrevocably towards the latter.

The recent two-week fine for his poor disciplinary record from last season infuriated Balotelli and was considered by many to be an orchestrated attempt by City to force through a transfer request and off-load the precociously talented but tiresomely problematic player. Today’s training ground bust-up between the pair meanwhile is widely viewed to be sourced in exasperation from Mancini at Balotelli’s atrocious attitude of late as he himself attempts to propagate a move.

Whatever the background politic we shall leave the speculation and sensationalism to the tabloids and simply state with certainty that, following today’s final straw, Mario Balotelli has no future at the current champions.

But should he leave in the weeks ahead who will City look to as a replacement for one of the most unpredictable and entertaining footballers the Premier League has seen?

Edinson Cavani

Mancini is a long-term admirer of the Napoli hitman saying last summer that he ‘has everything’. Rumours abounded – none moreso than in these very pages – that the 25 year old Uruguayan was being lined up as City’s big summer purchase but a contract extension postponed the inevitable departure from southern Italy of their prized asset who has already blasted in 20 goals this term. That extension has further complicated matters significantly with a £51m clause inserted that excludes all future interest from all but a handful of clubs. No matter Cavani’s undoubted sublimity – and the lad borders on the phenomenal – will City be prepared to splurge such an amount whilst already possessing three top class strikers? Certainly with Llorente heading to Juve and Falcao having now signed a pre-contract deal with Real the Serie A star is the last of the ‘available’ mega-money firepower out there and though City obviously have the funds surely Cavani will insist upon guaranteed first team football…can the Blues afford him that?

Stephen El Shaarawy

Il Faraone (the ‘little Egyptian’, so called because of his heritage despite the 20 year old being an Italian national) has took Serie A by storm this season and is already well on his way to becoming a Rossoneri legend. The comparisons with Balotelli are plentiful – both are young, brilliant, head-strong and favour hairstyles that can be generously classed as ‘unusual’ – but the key difference is that El Shaarawy produces on the pitch regularly and spectacularly.

Despite preferring a wider role his strike-rate is astonishing, bagging 44% of Milan’s goals this season so far and is primed for a magnificent career.

So will Milan sell for any price? Furthermore will the player – a lifelong Milan supporter – wish to disrupt his dream season with his dream club?

The prospective fee is around the £30m mark, a figure even the infamous miser Arsene Wenger is believed to be willing to pay and should City enter the brewing bidding war they an ace up their sleeve – Balotelli himself, who has long courted a return to Milan but in the red and black of his childhood heroes.

A strong bid for Europe’s hottest young talent (comparisons have been made with everyone from Ronaldo to Neymar) with a loan deal thrown in for Balotelli is not beyond the realms of improbability at this point.

Stevan Jovetic

The Fiorentina second striker has admitted it is only 50/50 whether he remains in Serie A after several reports linked the Montenegrin to City for the second time in two seasons. Mancini is evidently a fan and sees Jovetic as the type of player missing from his team’s armoury. Blessed with fantastic close control and a love for dribbling he is arguably a better purchase than even Cavani considering how often the Blues have to navigate through heavy defensive traffic.

John Guidetti

Why trouble the FFP when you already have a star in the making within your ranks? Guidetti was brought over from Sweden as a prodigious young prospect by Eriksson and now aged 20 is ready to announce himself on the big stage following a headline-grabbing spell in Holland last season with Feyonoord. City supporters are keen to see if he has what it takes and Balotelli’s latest and last incident could well prove to be the perfect opportunity to slide Guidetti into the fourth striker role.

Here is a stat to leave you on that raises expectation –

The top two highest goalscorers in the Prem presently are Van Persie and Suarez.

At Guidetti’s age they fired in 9/23 and 17/33 respectively in the Eridivise. Guidetti last season banged away 20/23.