Footballer Mario Balotelli’s return to Italy has already caused a storm – after fans celebrating his proposed move to AC Milan clashed with riot police.
An ecstatic crowd turned up to greet the outgoing Manchester City striker at a restaurant where he was due to dine with officials from his new club.
Video footage shows the 22-year-old – wearing a garish orange baseball cap and AC Milan scarf – jumping up and down with fans outside the city’s Giannino restaurant.
But later on police used tear gas to disperse a group of fans who let off flares and pelted officers with bottles and chairs.
One police officer was taken to hospital with head injuries sustained during the rioting, according to reports.
Balotelli is in Milan to finalise a transfer worth an initial 22m euro (£19m) and has been swamped by fans and photographers since his arrival at the city’s Malpensa airport.
Shortly after arriving he told the Milan channel: “I’d wanted to play for Milan for such a long time.
“Obviously I played for other teams and couldn’t come. But when there was a chance, I ran.”
There had been doubt over the viability of the deal earlier in January after Milan president Silvio Berlusconi branded Balotelli a “rotten apple”.
But the remark was retracted and did not seem to be an issue as the player took the call from the scandal-plagued politician during his medical.
AC Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani said: “It is a dream come true and something that we all wanted, with the President Silvio Berlusconi at the forefront.”
Balotelli scored 30 goals in 80 appearances for Manchester City, but will be equally well-remembered for his four red cards, clashes with team-mates and a series of bizarre off-field mishaps.
The emergency services had to be called after a firework was set off in the bathroom of his home, triggering a fire, in October 2011.
The following day he famously celebrated a goal in the Manchester derby by revealing a t-shirt emblazoned with the question: “Why always me?”
In his last month in Manchester he briefly threatened to take City to a Premier League tribunal in a dispute over a club fine and had a training ground bust-up with boss Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli’s mentor gave his blessing to the move after his team’s game against QPR.
Mancini said: “It is important for Mario – to be back in Italy, back with his family and to play for Milan.
“This is for Mario because we love Mario and he deserves to have this chance.”