AC Milan and Manchester City are in discussions over the possible transfer of Mario Balotelli, according to Sky Italia.

Roberto Mancini has consistently rubbished speculation linking Balotelli with a return to Italy, and as recently as Monday morning Mancini's assistant David Platt played down the prospect of a deal before Thursday's transfer deadline.

But the latest reports from Italy suggest Milan have made a breakthrough in their attempts to sign the striker.

There has been no official comment from City, and even Platt was in the dark when he stood in for Mancini at a press conference ahead of Tuesday's trip to QPR.

He said: "We've three days left before the deadline, but I haven't heard anything, to be honest. It's speculation.

"It's a shame Robbie's not here, because he might know a lot more than me. As far as we're concerned, he's still a Manchester City player. I'm not aware of any negotiation."

Balotelli, who previously played for Milan's rivals Inter, was labelled a "bad apple" by the club's owner Silvio Berlusconi earlier this season after a series of disciplinary problems during his two-and-a-half-years in England.

But neither that outburst, nor Berlusconi's claim last week that the 22-year-old is out of Milan's price range, has killed off talk of an imminent deal.