Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has had a "brief involvement" with a woman previously linked to Wayne Rooney while his wife was pregnant, the player's agent said today.
Balotelli's involvement with Jennifer Thompson occurred during a time when women were "targeting" the player to earn money by selling their stories, Mino Raiola, who represents the Italian, said.
Max Clifford, who is representing Miss Thompson, said his client has been pursued by tabloid newspapers following the "alleged friendship".
Miss Thompson was working as an escort when she and another call girl were linked with Rooney before England's World Cup campaign in 2010.
Mr Raiola said in a statement: "Mario is a young and impulsive football player and as such he is an easy target for tabloids looking for stories and people seeking to benefit from being associated with him.
"Lately I feel that the chase has become more purposeful and women, in particular, are targeting Mario looking to make money from him directly or by selling stories to newspapers that relate to situations which they have intentionally pursued. It now seems that one of these women has succeeded and the newspapers have their story.
"In this regard, we therefore wish to confirm that Mario has had a brief involvement with Miss Jennifer Thompson, a well-known figure amongst tabloid readers in England.
"Mario prefers to admit what has happened, has refused any means on offer to try to keep the matter silent and will deal with any consequences his actions bring in the way of public attention.
"However, he prefers to deal with his personal life in private and had told those close to him about this situation prior to any suggestion of this matter becoming public."
The agent added that the 21-year-old was "becoming aware of the modern practices operated by some newspapers" and was determined to avoid "certain types of people".
Mr Clifford said Miss Thompson approached his PR firm yesterday and discussions over the sale of her story were ongoing.
"She has been pursued by the tabloids over an alleged friendship with Balotelli and asked us to represent her.
"We represented her some time ago when she was linked to Wayne Rooney."