Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he had looked into the prospect of signing controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli in 2010 and thanked his ‘Italian contacts’ who discouraged him from going after the forward.

Back in the year 2010, the Scot was informed of a prodigious talent coming through the ranks of Inter Milan and the then Manchester United manager made a few calls to some of his compatriots in Italy to get to know more about this talented player. However, after some counsel from these contacts the manager gave up on his pursuit for the striker and has hailed them as a ‘godsend’.

Mario Balotelli eventually moved to Ferguson’s arch-rivals Manchester City the same year, where he spent a relatively successful two and a half years before being shipped back to Italy, when AC Milan showed interest in the striker. The mercurial striker had his most memorable moment in a Manchester City shirt in the 6-1 drubbing of the Red Devils, where Balotelli scored a goal and lifted his shirt to reveal the iconic message — “Why Always Me?”

An excerpt from Sir Alex Ferguson’s new book, ‘Leading’, reads:

In 2010 I briefly flirted with the idea of signing Mario Balotelli, the talented but controversial Italian striker.

I did my homework on him, speaking to a few Italian contacts, but the feedback I got confirmed it was too big a risk.

I don’t know whether this sort of candid professional courtesy exists in other fields, but for me it was a Godsend.

The 25-year-old returned to the English Premier League last season with Manchester United’s bitter rivals Liverpool FC, but returned to AC Milan after a terrible season in which he scored only a solitary league goal.