Balotelli will not be sold in January, says Nice president

Mario Balotelli will not be sold in the January transfer window, Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere has said.

Rivere spoke earlier in December about the difficulty in being able to hold on to the Italian without the money provided by European football as Nice sit sixth in Ligue 1, two spots shy of a Europa League spot.

Additionally, Balotelli himself admitted that he is hoping to get back to a top-level club when his current deal comes to an end, having rebuilt his reputation in France after failed spells at AC Milan and Liverpool.

Rivere, however, had made it clear that Nice will hold on to the striker for as long as they can and ruled out a January exit for their star man.

“No. It’s impossible,” the president said in an interview with Nice-Matin.

“We can’t even consider it. You know his importance. Thanks to his performances, he gained a financial value one year and a half before his contract ends.

Nice in Santa hats

“That’s not what we are looking for regarding Mario. We want him to lift the team higher.

“It’s actually a nice story. It’s comforting to see that we do not make only mistakes.”

The Nice chief also took time to address rumours that had arisen regarding coach Lucien Favre during a testing time for the club in October, stating the 60-year-old was never in any real danger of losing his job.

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“We never doubted Lucien,” he said. “It’s false. We never threw him to the wolves.

“When you know you’re dealing with the right guy to fix the issues there’s no reason to flinch. You just have to be united.

“We were and we made it together in the end. We did everything we had to do in order to keep the house from cracking.”

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Balotelli would rejoin Man City ‘for free’ as he targets move to ‘big club’

Mario Balotelli says he would head back to Manchester City “for free” as he plots a move to a “big club” that can challenge for trophies.

The enigmatic Italian striker enjoyed a productive spell at the Etihad Stadium between August 2010 and January 2013, winning the Premier League title and FA Cup.

His career rather hit the skids from that point, at AC Milan and Liverpool, but he has been rejuvenated since joining Ligue 1 outfit Nice in 2016.

Having recaptured his form and rebuilt his reputation, and only working on a contract in France until 2018, the 27-year-old feels he is ready for a step back up the football ladder.

Balotelli told Sky Italia on his future plans: “The aim is to go back to a big club. To win something important again. I called [agent] Mino Raiola and asked: ‘What am I doing in January?’ He said he didn’t know. I want to remain, so we’ll see.

“Admittedly, I would like to get back to having a strong squad behind me. I want to play in the Champions League and win something.

“I am certainly not thinking about the end of my career yet. I am 27 years old, so I can play another six or seven years at the top level.”

Mario Balotelli Manchester City play for free

While Balotelli’s time in England with City could have been considered eventful, with a professional relationship having soured by the time he returned to Milan, he still follows the club closely.

He is among those to have been impressed by the progress made under Pep Guardiola and admits that he would jump at the chance to work under one of the finest managers in the business at one of the world’s biggest clubs.

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Balotelli added to Gazzetta dello Sport: “I love City, the Manchester City fans and the club. I’d happily go back there for free. It was the best year of my life, even if the city is a little difficult to live in. Manchester is not London.

“In football terms, City was spectacular. I am so happy that they are going strong with Pep Guardiola and hope they win the title with 20 games to spare.”

While a second stint at City remains unlikely, Balotelli has put himself in the frame for a big move by taking his goal tally at Nice to 33 in just 49 games.

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What next for Balotelli as Nice admit they cannot afford him?

Mario Balotelli is likely to be on the move in 2018, with Nice admitting they cannot afford him without European football.

The Ligue 1 outfit proved to be the surprise package in the French top-flight last season as they mounted a shock title challenge.

They ultimately ended the campaign in third place, securing them a spot in the Champions League qualifiers.

Their success, and that of Balotelli, also allowed them to tie their enigmatic 27-year-old striker to a new one-year contract – with the Italian happy to commit after enjoying something of a renaissance in France.

Nice have, however, slipped into mid-table this term and fear failure to reach the top six could cost them the services of a top talent, with club president Jean-Pierre Rivere telling RMC Sport: “Without Europe, it’ll be difficult to keep hold of Balotelli.

Mario Balotelli Nice future

“He is exceptional on the field, he is changing his style of football and improving. I don’t know if he’ll remain with us next season, as it depends on results.

“Balotelli commands a salary of a certain level and we cannot afford that without European competition, even if we’ll do everything we can to keep him.”

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Balotelli netted 17 times for Nice in all competitions last season, having been offered an opportunity to rebuild his reputation following a forgettable stint at Liverpool.

He has already added another 15 efforts to that tally this term, in just 20 appearances.

The former Manchester City and Inter forward is starting to look more like a man who has won league titles in England and Italy, but it remains to be seen where he will be turning out in 2018-19.

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Mbappe clowns Kurzawa and Balotelli sails the seas – Ligue 1 goes social

Football fans who want to see Paris Saint-Germain left-back Layvin Kurzawa play in England may be left disappointed – as the defender’s mastery of the language is not what it might be.

Indeed, the France international has been ridiculed on social media this week by team-mates Kylian Mbappe and Julian Draxler because his level in the foreign tongue is basic at best.

Mbappe took to Instagram with the Germany midfielder to have a friendly dig at his team-mate. “When your team-mate doesn’t know how to say ‘three’ in English!” he exclaimed, while holding up three fingers on each hand. In truth, it is a dig that Kurzawa seems to have taken in good spirits, and besides, he would get his own back later in the week.

 

Quand ton collègue ne sait pas dire 3 en anglais @kurzawa_20 @draxlerofficial

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After Mbappe helped PSG rout Celtic 7-1 in the Champions League in midweek, he returned to Monaco on Sunday, the club where he made his name last season.

 

Victoire 7-1 contre le Celtic

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Although his overall performance was of a high level generally, for once his finishing let him down as he missed four great chances to strike against his former side.

All of those were missed – and to compound the issues it was off his head that Joao Moutinho’s free kick deflected to give the hosts late hope.

PSG ran out 2-1 winners in the end, but Thiago Silva admitted after the game that the Parisians were teasing Mbappe by reminding him that he does not play for Monaco any more.

His inability to put the ball in the goal will have disappointed the forward, who said prior to the match: “A game as special as it is important.”

 

Match aussi important que spécial… @nikefootball #playfire #mercurial #asmpsg

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If Mbappe was quiet with his fans after that encounter, which puts PSG nine points clear at the top of Ligue 1, Dani Alves, who had scored a fine goal earlier in the week against Celtic, praised the ethic of his team. “Great work and a big victory my men!” he said.

 

« Grand travail et grande victoire mon gars » #GoodCrazy

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A busy week of football means that there has been little time to relax for Ligue 1’s biggest stars, including Neymar.

Nevertheless, he has shown a glimpse of his home life by posting a picture of his son on a skiing trip as well as his three dogs, Poker, Truco and Flush.

 

My little boy

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Poker Truco Flush

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And no week would be complete without an offering from Nice striker Mario Balotelli, who found a pirate skeleton in his club’s gear to pose beside.

 

#issanissa

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It is another busy week for France’s top flight, with midweek matches again set to limit the players’ time to enjoy themselves – but no doubt Kurzawa will be brushing up on his English before his next training ground test!

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Balotelli’s world at Man City – Smashing plasma TVs, handing out cash and collecting parking tickets

Mario Balotelli smashed a plasma TV after being sent off and left a collection of parking tickets in his locker when departing Manchester City, Les Chapman has revealed.

A former kit man at the Premier League club has lifted the lid on the antics of an enigmatic striker who spent two-and-a-half years at the Etihad Stadium.

Man City -2 21/20 v Southampton

Balotelli’s misdemeanours throughout his colourful career are legendary, with the 27-year-old never far from the headlines.

That was certainly the case during his time in England, with Chapman – who made the famous ‘Why Always Me’ t-shirt displayed against Manchester United in October 2011 – left bemused by most of the Italian’s behaviour.

He told the Daily Mail on Balotelli: “He was a complete one-off, the most unpredictable man on the planet. When he got sent off at Arsenal he threw his boot through the plasma TV in the dressing-room!

Mario Balotelli Les Chapman Manchester City boot plasma

“But he was bright, he wasn’t stupid, and he was very generous. He would go into a garage and pay for everyone’s petrol or give a homeless guy a wad of cash.

“Then he used to wonder why his car was impounded 27 times… because it was painted in camouflage and he parked it on double yellows outside San Carlo restaurant in the middle of Manchester every day.

“I opened his locker after he left and all his parking tickets just fell out!”

Among those Balotelli clashed with during his time at City was former manager Roberto Mancini – a coach he also worked with at Serie A giants Inter.

Chapman believes falling outs were inevitable, with a Premier League title-winning boss a difficult man to work with.

He added on Mancini: “We won the Premier League and FA Cup and he is a legend to the fans, I understand that, but he was too confrontational. He was irrational.

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“I saw him fall out with Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko, Vincent Kompany, Carlos Tevez… when Manuel Pellegrini came in it was the opposite, he actually spoke to you and shook your hand.”

Balotelli left City to join AC Milan in January 2013, before returning to England with Liverpool in the summer of 2014.

A forgettable spell at Anfield followed, but he has rebuilt his career and reputation in France with Nice.

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