Reports: Man City closing in on Lazio's prankster

Lazio Fans

Italian football expert Gianluca Di Marzio insists that Manchester City are poised to sign Lazio rising star Balde Diao Keita.

Striking starlet Balde Diao Keita has won plaudits for his Europa League and Serie A performances this season and is reportedly a target for Manchester City.

The 18-year-old started his career at Barcelona but a prank played on a teammate at the age of 15 damaged his relationship with the club.

Keita reportedly put an ice cube in a teammate's bed and as a punishment was sent out on loan to feeder club Cornellà, where he became prolific.

Lazio pounced in 2011 and signed Keita for the tiny fee of around £200,000 and he has just graduated from the youth side.

The Spanish-born Senegalese forward has been given chances to impress by embattled coach Vladimir Petkovic and has taken them.

Liverpool have been tipped for a swoop for Keita, but it seems another Premier League side are leading the race to sign him.

According to respected Italian transfer market expert Gianluca Di Marzio, Manchester City scouts have watched Keita on several occasions.

"Lazio really don't have any intention of selling him at the moment, but Manchester City really like him," Di Marzio writes on his blog.

"Everyone is watching him and he is a real talent for the future. He's a young player who is already capable of being decisive at the highest level."

Lazio may not be able to resist Manchester City's advances if the player is set on a move and the Biancocelesti will struggle to compete financially or in terms of European aspirations.

image: © batrax

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