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Mario Balotelli closing in on Vasco de Gama transfer with official announcement set for January, claims club chief

MARIO BALOTELLI'S fall from grace is set to continue in Brazil with Vasco de Gama.

The club's sporting director has confirmed the duo are in talks and expects the deal to go through in January.

Balotelli, 30, has been without a club since having his contract terminated by Brescia at the end of last season.

Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, Vasco's Fabio Cordella said: "For our fans, he would be like Maradona.

"Vasco needs a player like Balotelli and he needs a club like Vasco.

"He wants to come here. We must not forget that Vasco da Gama is the second club with the most titles in the world after Real Madrid.

"In addition, the manager trusts that Balotelli is ready for this challenge.

"I don't think Mario needs to come to Rio de Janeiro to do stupid things, I think he has reached mental maturity.

"Officially we have not signed anyone, but there have been messages and offers. We have closed everything, but we have to formalize it and we hope to be able to do it on January 15."

Controversial Balotelli caused outrage at Brescia after he repeatedly missed training sessions as they were relegated to Serie B.

Balotelli had been training to keep up his fitness with Italian Serie D club Sporting Franciacorta.

SunSport previously exclusively revealed how the Italian bad boy was offered to the Tykes when contact between Balotelli's agent and Oakwell co-chairmen Chien Lee and Paul Conway was made.

Both sides were initially interested in the move before Balotelli's enthusiasm to play in the Championship cooled.

Mario Balotelli held talks with Barnsley over free transfer as Championship strugglers fight drop

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