Inter Milan have signed their promising young striker Mario Balotelli to a three-year contract, the club confirmed on Saturday.
The 17-year-old has put pen to paper on a deal that will take him through to June 2011. As a player younger than 18 years, it was the maximum contract he was allowed to sign. But when he turns 18 on 12 August, it is expected that he will add a further two more years.
"Mario Balotelli has signed a new contract with F.C. Internazionale that ties him to the club until 30 June 2011," the club said. "The documents were registered at the Italian Football League's offices this morning."
Balotelli, who was born in Sicily to Ghanaian parents before he was adopted by a couple from near Milan, made a massive impression in 2007/08 after being given a first-team opportunity.
He played an important part in Inter holding their nerve in the run-in to the title, and his pace and power allowed him to score an impressive seven goals in 15 matches.
12 August will be doubly significant, because when he turns 18 he will qualify for an Italian passport and the right to compete for the national teams.
He has already turned down various offers from Ghana and had he celebrated his birthday before August, there was a realistic chance that he may have been included in Pierluigi Casiraghi's squad at the Olympic Games in Beijing.
La Gazzetta dello Sport, meanwhile, reported that Inter midfielder Dejan Stankovic will not be joining Juventus after the Turin club were put off by the €15 million (US$23.4 million) valuation of the Serb.
They also claim that new boss of the Italian champions, Jose Mourinho, is ready to approach FC Porto with an offer for winger Ricardo Quaresma and will need to pay between €25 million and €40 million for the Portuguese international's services.