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Mario Balotelli eager to rebuild his career with Nice

Published 02/09/2016

Mario Balotelli joined Nice from Liverpool on a free transfer
Mario Balotelli joined Nice from Liverpool on a free transfer

Mario Balotelli has said he turned down other clubs because he believes Nice is the best place for him to revive his career.

The Italian striker left Liverpool for the Ligue 1 club on transfer deadline day, being allowed to leave Anfield for free to end a miserable two-year spell following his £16million move from AC Milan.

Now 26, Balotelli's once promising career is at a crossroads but the former Inter Milan and Manchester City striker believes he has made the right turn.

"The decision was only a sporting one," he said during his introduction at Nice. "It was best for me. Other teams wanted me but Nice is a good project.

"The coach believes in me and that's why I'm here."

Nice have landed a striker who impressed as a youngster at Inter and helped City win the Premier League title in 2012.

He then had a decent 18-month spell with AC Milan but his career took a turn for the worse when he joined Liverpool, where he scored only four goals in 28 appearances before being loaned back to Milan, where he was unable to reproduce his form of two years previous.

The deadline-day deal came as a surprise, but Nice c lub president Jean-Pierre Rivere said the transfer had been the club's idea and they had made the first move.

"I never take a player if he does not fit with the coach or the squad," he said.

However, Rivere admitted signing a player known as much for his off-field antics as his on-field success could be seen as a risk.

"The press says we are taking a huge risk with Mario," he said. "We assume that risk."

Balotelli, however, insisted he would repay their faith.

"My career is different from what has been written," he said, according to L'Equipe. "I have had physical problems, but I'm not a risk."

Coach Lucien Favre said Balotelli's condition would be analysed before any decision was made on whether he would make his debut in Nice's next match, at home to Marseille on September 11.

Balotelli, capped 33 times, has immediately begun work with his new team-mates during the international break, having not received an Italy call since November 2014.

"Everyone knows I care a lot about the national team but lately I did not deserve to be selected," Balotelli added. "Now I will focus on Nice. It has been two years since I was selected. During the Euros that hurt a lot, I do not know what would have happened had I been there but (Antonio) Conte made his choice."

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