Tuesday August 21 2018
‘Marseille wouldn’t pay Balotelli fee’

Nice President Jean-Pierre Rivère explains Marseille wouldn’t pay €5m for Mario Balotelli, offering only Remy Cabella in exchange.

The Italian international was keen to make the move to the Stade Velodrome, but it was announced last night that he’d be staying with Les Aiglons.

“It’s very simple,” Rivère explained to L’Équipe.

“Mario wanted to play in Europe this season and he was ready to go. For two-and-a-half months he was asked after by several clubs, including OM.

“With the other clubs it was more complicated. The club had a gentleman’s agreement with the player and his entourage to let him go, for a price between €4m and €5m.

“OM offered between zero and €2.5m, but never more. The first offer for Mario was for free, but in exchange OM committed to sell us Remy Cabella for €5m.

“We also had an offer to buy Mario for €2.5m, and at the same time sell Cabella for €2.5m. It always revolved around the same proposals and Nice was not interested in these terms.

“We also had, I believe, an offer of zero for Mario and Cabella for €4m in return. Then we remained without news for a long time.

“There was a meeting today [yesterday] between the player’s agent [Mino Raiola] and ourselves, and Mario told us that he wanted to stay in Nice for one more season.

“The decision was made jointly, we never forced Mario to stay. In his head he’s 100 per cent with us. Mario was supposedly their top priority, but Marseille missed out on him for the sake of €1.5m.”

Super Mario failed to report for the first day of pre-season training though…

“I don’t have to explain it, it doesn’t matter. In addition, between the salary conditions offered by OM and what he has here there was no comparison. There was a huge difference.

“That’s it, that’s the story.  There was a tense episode when Mario returned with two weeks late for training but all that’s forgotten, it’s behind us. We needed a number 9, we got him, and we could not hope for better.

“I really want to thank Mino Raiola too, who was always absolutely correct with Nice. Many things have been said about him during this saga, but he was exemplary with us.

“A contract renewal? Right now it’s not on the agenda.”