Vieira: It’s a shame to see Balotelli ruin Nice heroics

Patrick Vieira says it is a “shame” to see Mario Balotelli “ruin” his reputation at Nice by failing to turn up for training as he looks to complete a transfer.

The Ligue 1 club revealed that the Italian striker was not present for new coach Vieira’s first session in charge at the start of the month amid reports he is in talks over a switch to Marseille.

Balotelli has impressed at Nice since joining from Liverpool in 2016, scoring 43 times in 66 appearances in all competitions, and has one year left on his contract, but the former Inter and Manchester City forward still has not reported for duty.

While Vieira has no problem with him seeking a move, he is disappointed to see him turn his back on the club, while the likes of Jean Michael Seri and Maxime Le Marchand showed up despite being in talks before joining Fulham.

“I had him on the phone a few weeks ago and we had arranged for him to start pre-season training,” Vieira told L’Equipe. “Unfortunately, he is not here. 

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“It’s a shame because he spent two beautiful years here, he built a very good relationship with the club and the supporters. It’s a shame that it ends like this. That he wants to leave is not a problem, it’s part of football today. But ruin two seasons like that, it’s a shame. 

“Team members like Jean Michael Seri and Maxime Le Marchand, who knew they were changing clubs, were present. 

“It was not easy for them but they worked, respecting the club. They were able to greet everyone, the club and even the fans. 

“For Mario, it ends differently.”

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Balotelli has been linked to French rivals Marseille since the end of last season, and his agent, Mino Raiola, said last month that they would enter negotiations.

“We have good relations with Marseille, I know the director very well. We’re going to see – it’s too early,” he said.

“Mario is an emotional player, he always gives 100 per cent. He can marry very well with the Marseillais mentality, that’s for sure.”

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Balotelli fails to report for Nice training

Mario Balotelli failed to report for the first day of pre-season training at Nice – new head coach Patrick Vieira’s first in charge of the club.

The Italy international has been strongly linked with a move away from the Allianz Riviera this summer, with Marseille persistently linked with a player who has previously indicated his desire to return to his homeland.

Former Arsenal midfielder Vieira has admitted that he expected the 27-year-old striker to be present along with Alassane Plea, who was also absent, albeit with reports suggesting he had airline trouble.

Balotelli, meanwhile, was content to post a video of himself playing football yesterday with rapper 6ix9ine on Instagram.

“It was planned that all the players would be here,” Vieira told the media. “Unfortunately, these two were not present. We will try to understand why.”

 

@worldstar @pumafootball ?? ?? ?? #broshangingout ???? @50cent I’m agree with you now this guy is a real champ! @6ix9ine_ @xxxtentacion always in hour ????

A post shared by Mario Balotelli???????? (@mb459) on

He went on to explain that Balotelli had not asked for an extra day off.

“He was expected here today,” the new coach confirmed. “He was not here and it was not planned.”

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Vieira, meanwhile, offered a cryptic response on the player’s future.

“My desire is to keep all the players who want to be part of the project,” he said.

Balotelli has scored 33 goals in 51 Ligue 1 appearances since moving to France and earned his international place back under Roberto Mancini before the summer break after an absence of close to four years.

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Balotelli would fit in at Marseille – Raiola

Mario Balotelli would be well suited to a move to Marseille according to agent Mino Raiola, who said the Italian striker can “marry well with the Marseillais mentality”.

Reports have linked the Nice target man with a €10 million switch to Marseille that would bring an end to his two-year spell at the Allianz Riviera.

Balotelli has scored 33 Ligue 1 goals in 51 appearances for Les Aiglons, but Nice slumped to a disappointing eighth-placed finish in the 2017-18 season.

Marseille, meanwhile, finished fourth and reached the Europa League final under head coach Rudi Garcia, and Raiola told RMC that a move to OM could be on the cards.

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“We have good relations with Marseille, I know the director very well,” said Balotelli’s agent. “We’re going to see – it’s too early.

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“Mario is an emotional player, he always gives 100 per cent. He can marry very well with the Marseillais mentality, that’s for sure.

“The Marseillais are like that, they are hot. Mario is hot. We’ll see.”

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Balotelli given two-game ban for diving

Mario Balotelli will be banned for the first two matches of the new Ligue 1 season – if the Italy international remains in French football.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Thursday that Balotelli has been hit with a two-match suspension.

Balotelli was given the ban after the LFP ruled he dived in a match against Caen, leading to Ismael Diomande being sent off.

Nice forward Balotelli is out of contract at the club, having spent two seasons rebuilding his reputation in Ligue 1.

The Italy international has scored 33 goals for Nice over the past two Ligue 1 campaigns, while adding seven strikes in the Europa League for the club. 

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His solid form in France’s top flight earned him a recall for Italy, with the striker scoring in his return to the Azzurri. 

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Balotelli has previously stated that he is uncertain what his club future holds, admitting to Nice’s official website he makes his decisions on a week-by-week basis. 

New Nice coach Patrick Vieira has said he expects Balotelli to report for pre-season training despite speculation over his future.

Ligue 1 rivals Marseille are reportedly keen on Balotelli, who has also been linked with a Serie A return to either Napoli or Roma.

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He’s one of the world’s best – Thauvin urges Balotelli to join Marseille

Florian Thauvin is excited by the prospect of playing with “one of the best in the world” in Mario Balotelli and urged the Italian to join him at Marseille.

After a difficult couple of years at Liverpool and AC Milan, Balotelli surprised many by joining Ligue 1 side Nice ahead of the 2016-17 season.

In France, Balotelli has gone some way to rediscovering his best form, scoring 33 times across two Ligue 1 seasons and he looks set to move on once again, with his contract about to expire.

Although Balotelli is expected to return to Serie A, Marseille coach Rudi Garcia expressed his admiration for the striker at the end of May and Thauvin has echoed his manager’s words.

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“I spoke for a few seconds with Mario Balotelli during half time against Italy,” Thauvin told reporters.

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“Of course, it would be a pleasure if Mario Balotelli joins us at Marseille. He is a really great striker.

“For me, he is one of the best in the world when he is at his best. Of course, it would be a pleasure to have him with us at Marseille and we are waiting for him.”

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