Nice have paid tribute to Mario Balotelli following his move to Olympique Marseille, describing it as ‘the end of a beautiful story’.
Balotelli joined Nice as a free agent in the summer of 2016 after disappointing spells with Liverpool and Milan and scored 43 goals in two seasons, helping them to a third-place finish in his debut campaign.
Although his third term did not go to plan, the French club nonetheless wished the Italy striker well as he joined their Ligue 1 rivals on a deal until the end of the season.
“While today officially marks the end of their collaboration, OGC Nice would like to thank Mario Balotelli for the last two and a half seasons,” wrote Les Aiglons in a statement on their official website.
“Warmly welcomed by the club and its supporters, the centre forward didn’t just live up to the expectations placed in him, he exceeded them.
“The 43 goals he scored for Les Rouge et Noir were instrumental in the club’s results during the past two campaigns.
“After a difficult period in England and Italy, it was with Le Gym that Mario reminded the world just what an exceptional striker he is, recording the most prolific season of his career last term that saw him recalled to the Italy national team.
“Already last season, there was talk of a transfer. But OGC Nice and the player decided to extend the relationship for another six months: one last challenge for everything that had gone before.
“And while it was the logical decision at the start of the season, the best option now is to part ways, with the termination of his contract, by mutual consent.
“Now, as it’s time to say goodbye, and Mario has chosen his future destination, OGC Nice remembers all the good times, the spectacular goals, the smiles and collective joy of the time spent with its now ex-No.9.
“Filled with these wonderful memories, the club sincerely wishes Mario every future success and hopes he continues to reach his goals.”