Mario Balotelli has admitted he wanted to leave Nice at the end of last season and had several offers to exit the club.
The striker has enjoyed a career renaissance with the French side, scoring 43 times in 66 appearances since joining in 2016 following a disastrous spell at Liverpool.
His prolific form led to reported interest from Marseille and Napoli among other clubs.
“To be honest, at the end of last season, I wanted to leave. The president and the club knew it,” Balotelli admitted in an interview with OGC Nice TV.
“I had five very concrete proposals and I waited. But in the end, I decided to stay. But I’ve could have left very easily.”
The 28-year-old failed to arrive on time for pre-season training last month, leading to increasing speculation that he could be sold.
But the Italy international had a change of heart and is set to stay for one more season at least with his contract entering its final season.
“Why did I stay? Because the atmosphere is great with my team-mates, the club and everything,” Balotelli continued. “I also had one year left on my contract so I decided to stay.
“It’s my decision and nobody tells me what to do. I do whatever I want, in all due respect. The final decision regarding my career is always up to me.”
Patrick Vieira’s arrival as manager in the summer also played a part in Balotelli’s decision, with the former Arsenal midfielder replacing now-Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre.
“That changed like 80 per cent of my decision,” Balotelli said of Vieira’s arrival.
“I spoke with the president and Patrick. The way they spoke to me and the proposition they made, it was good. I spoke with my agent and told him let’s do one more here.