|'No one trusts him' was the frank assessment by Mancini, left, of the controversial and erratic striker, right [GETTY]
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini admits he cannot trust controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli.
Mancini desperately needs Balotelli to hit a rich vein of form as City try to overhaul Manchester United at the top of the English Premier League.
But Balotelli showed no signs of focusing on his football this week as he flew to Italy during two days off to make a bizarre appearance at a press conference to unveil Andrea Stramaccioni as the new manager of the striker's former club Inter Milan.
It is by no means the first time the 21-year-old has found himself in the headlines for his eccentric behaviour.
He was also pictured coming out of strip club less than 48 hours before a match earlier this month and landed himself in trouble when fireworks were let off in the bathroom of his house last year.
Mancini is growing increasingly frustrated and was pictured appearing to argue with Balotelli following his trip to Italy.
The City boss concedes it is difficult to put his trust in the wayward star on the pitch while he remains such a volatile character.
"I don't trust Mario. No-one trusts Mario ... Until now he did well and in the last eight games he could be important for us. But trust him? Never. "
- Roberto Mancini
"I don't trust Mario. No-one trusts Mario," said Mancini.
"He is a top player. He can do everything. He can score two goals against Arsenal next week. But he can also take a red card.
"Until now he did well and in the last eight games he could be important for us. But trust him? Never."
Despite his behaviour, Balotelli has a chance to play a major role in City's title challenge as Sergio Aguero is sidelined with a foot injury Mancini labelled as "stupid".
Mancini continues to insist the Italian striker will eventually mature into a world-class talent.
"I can't put him in his house for two days," said Mancini.
"Probably the moment will arrive when he will know what he should do when he has two days off.
"I hope he will grow out of it because he needs to know this is his job. He needs to work and rest. But he is young."