The Italian striker has been in incredible form for Nice this season, but the Monaco goalkeeper does not see him on the same level as the former PSG frontman
Mario Balotelli may have got off to a flying start in Ligue 1 with Nice, but he cannot be considered a talisman of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ilk, according to Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.
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The Italy international has been in excellent form since moving to France from Liverpool in the early weeks of the season and has thoroughly impressed with eight goals in nine games in the league despite being hindered by slight injuries.
Nice finished 2016 top of the French top flight, five points ahead of last season’s champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are yet to get going following the departure of iconic striker Ibrahimovic.
While Balotelli may be on fire for Nice, Subasic has dismissed the idea of him being Nice’s version of the enigmatic Swede.
“No way, not close! He is good player, but can’t fill Ibra’s shadow,” he told 24 sata.
“Nice is our main rival now, they play great, but it is only half way, we’ll see how long will they be able to keep this rhythm.
“What is happening to PSG? No Ibra, no party, haha! You don’t have to like him, but 30 goals and 15 assists per season… you have to respect him. Last season PSG finished 30 points ahead of us and if Ibra had played for Monaco, we would have been champions!”
Monaco currently sit two points behind Nice in Ligue 1 and are still competing in the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Champions League, meeting Manchester City in the second round of the latter.
Subasic admits finishing top of the domestic league is not a necessity for his side, and feels progressing to the next round of the Champions League would be a bonus.
“In Monaco we are hungry for success, we haven’t won any trophy, so we ‘bite’,” the Croatia international added. “In attack we are very strong, but sometimes we get carried away and concede silly goals, at 3-0 or 4-0.
“In our most recent game we were 2-0 up against Caen and instead of defending the lead, we kept attacking and ended up conceding a goal in 95th minute. We have young team, that lacks experience.
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“Our goal for this season is second place and a place in the Champions League. Everything above that would be a bonus, Including eliminating Man City.
“There is no easy opponent in the Champions League last 16. In previous years we had to face Arsenal and Juventus, now it is Manchester City… A big club, a big coach and a big team.
“They are not in perfect shape right now, but they will be big favorites against us. But, of course we have our chance, we just have to relax and play our best.”