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

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Brescia will allow Mario Balotelli to leave the club for free in January, according to the Serie A club's president Massimo Cellino.

Former Manchester City and Milan striker Balotelli signed for his hometown club Brescia – who sit bottom of Serie A – in August and has scored two goals in eight league appearances.

The 29-year-old, who played in his side's 3-0 defeat to Atalanta on Saturday, has endured a tumultuous return to Italy, with several incidents overshadowing his performances.

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 loss to Roma on November 24.

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 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 the game of football," Cellino told Le Iene. "For him to play in Serie A is a big sacrifice; maybe he thought it was simpler. 

"In January he is free to go away for free. Right now, he has to choose the road up or down. He has to convince himself. I don't want him to go away. 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 did it too much," 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 was not me that offended him. When my joke was put 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.

"Mario is not a warrior who challenges everyone, it is not so. Mario must make people feel that he's suffering."