Mario Balotelli was incredibly fortunate that Nice were willing to take a punt on him this summer after his pitiful performances for Liverpool and AC Milan over the last two years.
The Italian striker scored one Premier League goal in 16 appearances during the 2014-15 campaign for the Reds.
He was then loaned to Milan for the 2015-16 and scored the same number of league goals in 20 matches.
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Jurgen Klopp was desperate to offload Balotelli, while Liverpool were equally as keen to get him off the wage bill, so a free transfer to Nice was arranged on August 31.
Balotelli, who would later describe joining Liverpool as the “worst mistake of his life” while also criticising both Klopp and Brendan Rodgers, made a good first impression with his new employers: scoring two goals in a 3-2 victory over Marseille earlier this month.
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Balotelli's impressive start interrupted
However, Nice boss Lucien Favre was forced to leave the 26-year-old out of his squad for the clash against Montpellier at the weekend due to his poor physical condition.
After he failed to impress during Nice’s 1-0 defeat to Schalke in the Europa League, it became apparent to Favre that Balotelli was severely lacking in fitness.
However, it turns out that Nice weren’t the only club who wanted to sign Balotelli.
A Champions League club wanted Balotelli...
Another French club - one competing in the Champions League, would you believe - were also keen to bring the Italian to Ligue 1.
“Yes, Jean-Michel Aulas (the Lyon president) has attempted to recruit Balotelli,” Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere told L'Equipe, per the Daily Mail. “I learned the day before [deadline day] but it's okay, it's part of the game.
“Signings like Younes Belhanda and Balotelli, you want to do in June but it is not affordable. So you prepare, you work and you try to finish at the end.”
Balotelli would have been second choice behind Lacazette
Balotelli clearly felt - and fair play to him for this - that he stood a better chance of getting minutes at Nice than he did Lyon, where Alexandre Lacazette would have remained the Champions League club’s first-choice centre-forward.
Should Mario Balotelli have signed for Lyon - or was he right to join Nice instead? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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