Balotelli: I'm not a gamble

The controversial Italian has bit back after Jamie Carragher claimed Nice were “still paying over the odds” despite signing the striker on a free transfer from Liverpool

Mario Balotelli insists Nice have not taken a gamble by signing him on a free transfer from Liverpool.

The 26-year-old joined the Ligue 1 club to end an underwhelming two-year stint with the Reds, where he scored just four goals in 28 appearances after being signed by Brendan Rodgers in a £16m deal.

Balotelli also scored just one Serie A goal on loan at Milan last season and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher joked that Nice were “still paying over the odds” when landing the Italian for nothing.

But while he admits the pressure is on to perform this season, Balotelli is adamant he does not represent a risk for Nice and believes they are best club for him.

“It was a footballing decision to come here,” he said. “There were other successful clubs who wanted me but I need above all else to play this season. This season needs to be a good season.

“My career in football is very different from what has been written about me ever since I was 16 so I don’t think I am a risk.

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“In the last two years the only problem has been the lack of game time due to physical problems. I don’t think I am a gamble at all – I have to be right physically and to do that, I only have to play. I only need to play regularly – mentally I am fine.

“I am not old. I am no longer young but now I have a certain experience and I hope to make that available to the team.”

A number of Serie A clubs were reportedly interested in signing Balotelli, who has spent time with both Inter and Milan.

But the controversial striker, who last represented Italy in 2014, has vowed to “never return” to his homeland.

“I don’t miss Italy at all,” he said.

“I would never return to Italy now and you should know why. Everyone knows how much I care about the national team but recently I have not deserved to be picked. If it happens, good, but you have been playing without me for two years now so I am sure you are used to it.”

Known for his partying lifestyle, when also asked about the number of nightclubs in Nice and nearby Monaco, Balotelli snapped: “I do not even want to hear this question. It doesn’t interest me.”

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