Zamparini admits Palermo wanted Balotelli

The striker has made an instant impact since joining Nice in the summer, scoring four goals in two appearances, and the Serie A side say they were keen on him

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has confirmed the club wanted to bring Mario Balotelli to the club in the off-season but could not afford to sign the striker.

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The Italy international was born in the Sicilian city, but made his breakthrough at Lumezzane before starring for Inter, Manchester City and AC Milan.

A controversial figure, Balotelli’s subsequent struggles at Liverpool left him free to make a move ahead of the current campaign, eventually signing for Nice in France.

The 26-year-old has scored four goals in his first two Ligue 1 appearances, and while Zamparini was disappointed to find Balotelli’s demands too costly, he is happy to see the player back on form.

“Did I want Balotelli? Yes,” Zamparini told Rai Sport. “I am pleased for him and also with how he is behaving at Nice. I am sure that he is a golden boy.

“The cost for Palermo was too high, I can’t allow that type of thing anymore. Maybe Nice can. I am pro-Balotelli!”

Balotelli must remain serious, says Favre

The Italian striker has made a superb start to life at Nice, and his coach hopes he keeps his personal life in order as he looks to get back to his best

After a blistering start to his Nice career, Mario Balotelli must continue to make small steps if he is to reach his full potential, according to head coach Lucien Favre.

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Since signing for Nice on a free transfer from Liverpool towards the end of the transfer window, former Manchester City, Inter and AC Milan striker Balotelli has struck four goals in two Ligue 1 starts.

But, after the Italian’s double in the 4-0 derby victory over Monaco on Wednesday, Favre has insisted that Balotelli must improve his work-rate if he is to continue his excellent form, urging the 26-year-old to remain professional on and off the pitch.

“He must overcome steps, small steps, one after another. Mario will not just start running 11 kilometres every match right now,” the German said.

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“I talked to him already about his movement, the will he must show when he moves.

“He’s very receptive and now he smiles when he scores a goal. He communicates joy to the group. But he must be serious and not let himself go in his personal life.”

Balotelli’s goals have helped Nice rise to top spot in Ligue 1 after six fixtures, with Favre’s side travelling to Nancy on Sunday.

Balotelli can return to the top – Favre backs Nice star for greatness

The Swiss believes boosts to the striker’s confidence following his barnstorming start to Ligue 1 can propel him back amongst the best in the game

Nice coach Lucien Favre believes Mario Balotelli is on track to return to the top level after another brace in Ligue 1.

The Italian forward struck twice as Nice crushed Monaco 4-0 to move top of the table on Wednesday.

After a poor spell at Liverpool, and on loan at AC Milan, Balotelli has now netted four times in two league games for Nice.

And, after the 26-year-old claimed he can still lift the Ballon d’Or, Favre feels his star is slowly demonstrating the level he can play at again.

“The goal for 2-0 is very important. Psychologically, it really gives confidence. We know we have the margin,” he told reporters.

READ MORE | Balotelli pips Falcao to send Nice top of Ligue 1

“With Mario, we know there is still a lot of work in the movement to play with the team.

“His goal for 2-0, the angle was hard, the goalkeeper is good. He must continue like this.

“He becomes aware that he will return to the top level if he is professional. After difficult years for him, the recovery will be the key to return to the top.

“Gradually, we will try to help him become stronger. Four goals in the first two Ligue 1 matches? No, I wasn’t expecting that.”

Balotelli struck on the half-hour mark when he took a pass from Younes Belhanda before finishing across the goalkeeper and off the post.

His second was a simple finish after being played through by Ricardo Pereira.

Nice 4-0 Monaco: Balotelli pips Falcao to send hosts top of Ligue 1

The derby clash had been billed as a straight shootout between the two strikers and it was the Italian who came out on top with a brace

Mario Balotelli continued his impressive start to life in Ligue 1 as his brace in a 4-0 rout of rivals Monaco sent Nice to the top of the table. 

The controversial Italy international left Liverpool for Nice on a free transfer in the last window and made it four goals in two league appearances with his brace in Wednesday’s derby at the Allianz Riviera.

Paul Baysse had already headed Nice into a 17th-minute lead by the time Balotelli raced into the area and drilled a shot into the far corner.

The former AC Milan striker then doubled his tally for the evening and the season in the 68th minute when he swept home first time inside the penalty area.

Balotelli missed out on the chance to make it a hat-trick as he had already been replaced when Nice were awarded a penalty for Tiemoue Bakayoko’s challenge on Valentin Eysseric that earned the Monaco defender a red card.

Alassane Plea, Balotelli’s replacement, saw his spot-kick saved by Danijel Subasic, but made amends moments later by nodding home Wylan Cyprien’s cross to complete a comprehensive victory for Lucien Favre’s men.

Monaco’s unbeaten league run consequently came to an abrupt halt, while Nice hold a one-point lead at the summit over champions Paris Saint-Germain.

'Nice beat Lyon to Balotelli'

The striker has made an instant impression at Allianz Riviera but the outfit’s president says he could have moved to their Ligue 1 rivals instead

Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere claims his Lyon counterpart Jean-Michel Aulas also wanted to sign Mario Balotelli.

Former Manchester City and AC Milan striker Balotelli joined Nice on a free transfer following a shambolic spell with Liverpool and marked his debut with a brace to help secure a 3-2 win over Marseille.

The 26-year-old completed another 90 minutes in the 1-0 Europa League defeat to Schalke last week before sitting out a 1-1 Ligue 1 draw against Montpellier due to a minor groin complaint but is expected to return for the derby against Monaco.

And, far from being the pariah he was portrayed as towards the end of his time on Liverpool’s books, Rivere claims Balotelli was a man in demand as deadline day approached last month.

“Yes, Jean-Michel Aulas has attempted to recruit Balotelli,” he told L’Equipe. “I learned the day before but it’s okay, it’s part of the game. 

“Signings like Younes Belhanda and Balotelli, you want to do in June but it is not affordable. So you prepare, you work and you try to finish at the end.”

READ MORE | Balotelli failed at Liverpool due to Gerrard jealousy – Diouf

Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola had declared Balotelli will “absolutely return to the Premier League”, casting Nice as something of a stepping stone in his client’s career.

Nevertheless, Rivere is relaxed over the outspoken representative’s latest proclamations.

“This is his player and he is an agent. He is a very good agent because he knows sometimes how to raise the prices,” he said.

“At first, Nice was hard to grasp for Raiola. We will see later in the season, you never know in life.”

One wayward but mercurial star who got himself back on track at Nice was Hatem Ben Arfa, although he has failed to reproduce last season’s sparkling form since joining Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain.

The playmaker was left out of the matchday squad for a second game in succession at the weekend as Unai Emery’s men routed Caen 6-0.

“I have great affection for Hatem,” Rivere added. “He is a boy I like because he did some great things at the club, and on the human level. 

“I’m sorry for him for this. I want to say, ‘hang on, do not give up’. It will come because he has a real talent.”