Tuesday August 21 2018
Nice: 'Balotelli wants to stay'

“Mario Balotelli expressed his wish to stay at Nice,” said club President Jean-Pierre Rivere after an Olympique Marseille bid failed.

The striker had been expected to leave this summer and even had a medical with Marseille, refusing to attend pre-season training with Nice.

Last night, Les Aiglons put an end to the negotiations and it seems Balotelli has accepted it.

“After last night’s meeting, we gave each other 24 hours to reach a decision. In the end, Mario Balotelli expressed his wish to stay at Nice,” Rivere told RMC Sport this evening.

“The situation is very simple. We had a player who was approached. There were some very big offers coming from China, but the player turned them down.

“He was upset we were not playing in the Champions League this season and was approached by Marseille. They worked hard on him, but in the end, he decided to stay and we are very happy with that.

“At the start of July, Marseille called to find out if Balotelli had a release clause. I said we had a gentlemen’s agreement to let him go for €4-5m if we failed to qualify for the Champions League. There was no offer for a month, then they finally stepped forward with a proposal of €5m plus Cabella on loan.

“Another offer was that we had to buy Cabella for €5m in return for them paying €2.5m for Balotelli. After that, we couldn’t possibly negotiate. It was time to put an end to the whole thing.

“All I know is, if they had offered €4m, then Balotelli would’ve left. This soap opera dragged on for two-and-a-half months. I can justify Balotelli not attending pre-season training because, in his mind, he was leaving.

“The situation became more complicated and today Mario is fully involved in the Nice project, otherwise he wouldn’t be with us.”

This interview raises quite a few questions, as agent Mino Raiola seemed to tell Serie A clubs that Balotelli was available for €10m and not €4-5m.

He had been linked with a return to Italy for Napoli, Roma, Lazio or Parma.

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