Friday September 2 2016
Balotelli: 'Never back in Italy'

Mario Balotelli insists 'I am not a gamble' for Nice, but admits 'I didn't deserve the Azzurri'.

The Italian will attempt to kick-start his career in France after two years that saw him largely losing his credibility and his reputation as a champion.

“It was a footballing decision to come here," Balotelli told the Press in his official presentation. "There were other teams, including first-rate ones. But I need to play, this year in particular.

“I liked Nice's project. I spoke with the Coach and he believes in me as I do in them.”

Balotelli was also asked whether he felt any nostalgia for Italy.

“No, I would never return to Italy now. Why? You already know why."

Is Mario Balotelli a gamble?

“Aside from the fact that my career in football is very different from what keeps being written about me ever since I was 16, I don't think I am a risk.

“I had some problems, particularly of a physical nature after the operation, that's all that happened in the last two years. So I don't think I am a gamble in any way, I just need some playing time.

“Things are very nice here, but above all this is a nice team, with a good group in which you can be comfortable. It's like a family, which is very important for me."

Inevitably, the 26-year-old was asked about a possible return to the Italian national team.

“Everybody knows how much I care about the Azzurri, but in recent times I did not deserve it. If a call-up comes that's good, otherwise it's been two years that you've been playing without me, so I'm sure you're used to it."

Gianluigi Buffon said that his choice to move to Nice was a humble one and deserving of praise.

“I have great respect for Buffon. He's a great person and a phenomenon as a player. If he said that, it must have been for my good, so I thank him.

“Nice? They have a good game and they finished fourth last year, playing the ball, and that's why I came here. That's what I liked.

"I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the fans who showed up for my first training. Did I expect them to be there? Yes, I did.

"I know football here is very tactical and physical, but I'll be sincere and say I don't think of the championship as a whole, only about my team and doing what the Coach wants.

"Comparisons with [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic? He played in Paris, I play for Nice. My objectives? I just think of training one day at a time, and playing one game at a time.

"My mental state? I'm perfectly well, thank you."

Balotelli was then asked if he was impressed by the many journalists coming to the presentation, even for a smaller team like Nice.

"They're the ones who come to me, not the other way round. The Europa League? No team plays to lose. Nice play to win and so do I. We're going into the Europa League with the idea of winning.

"What the papers say? I don't read them, as I always said. I am integrating myself in the group, thanks to the other players. I must also thank and listen to Dante, who is a great champion.

"I am not as young as some of the others, though I'd like to point out I am not old! But I certainly have a special responsibility. Italy-France? I couldn't see that unfortunately, as I was with the team's dinner.

"I've only been missing football, that's the only thing I need to be happy, aside from my daughter."

The player was asked whether he'd be going to the night-clubs, but he refused to answer the question: "I don't even want to hear it.

"I've never been asked to be more moderate on social media, that's something others have been saying.

"When I watched the national team I just supported them, because I care about those colours. It hurt a little because I'd have liked to be on the pitch, but I won't make statements on whether they'd have been stronger with me. If Antonio Conte decided to take those players, then that was the best possible team, and it's right that way.

"A return to Milan? I'd like to thank Adriano Galliani, who is a great person, and the team and the fans. But let's forget all the rest."

Balotelli also attempted a phrase in French for his new fans.

“I hope that this year will be very good,” he said, struggling a little. “That's all.”

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