Whenever Mario Balotelli reminds us of the goalscoring ability he possesses, he often just as quickly falls back into his less desirable habits.
The Nice striker hit 26 goals in all competitions last season - the best return of his career after ending the 2013-14 season with 18 for Milan.
All up, Balotelli has found the net 43 times since arriving on the French Riviera from Liverpool on a deadline day free transfer two summers ago.
His signing has proven to be a shrewd piece of business by the Ligue 1 club, though it seems their value for money will only stretch so far.
Suspended for the first three domestic matches of the current campaign, Balotelli is yet to score despite being afforded six starts and 547 minutes of action under Patrick Vieira.
The 29-year-old has also picked up five yellow cards in seven appearances to date, which is perhaps symptomatic of his mindset after returning to pre-season some 12kgs overweight.
Even so, Balotelli was once again paired with Myziane Maolida up front for Nice’s trip to Nimes on Saturday evening.
The match ended 1-0 in favour of the visitors courtesy of Youcef Atal, but Vieira was far from pleased with what he saw from his side.
"It's been a tough and complicated match for Nice, we've suffered a lot, it's been less than an average match," he told reporters, per Goal.
"We take the three points, but we come home with the feeling that there is still a lot of work to be done. In the future, we will have to produce better displays than tonight to continue our progress.”
Remarkably, the Arsenal legend saw fit to level individual criticism at Balotelli after substituting him for Jean-Victor Makengo in the 75th minute.
"We didn't put enough pressure on our opponent. Just like Mario Balotelli, we were less than average,” he said.
VIEIRA ON BALOTELLI
Reflecting on the Italian’s reaction to being dragged so close to the final whistle, Vieira insisted: "It's good that he is angry because he does not want to come off.
"His goal may be at the next game, but what's important is how he worked for the goal.
“I'm not worried about that side of things, what worries me is the team and how he continues to work for the team.”
Vieira comes across as being slightly harsh on Balotelli; the team did win, after all.
The enigmatic forward typically doesn’t take kindly to being called out in public, so it will be interesting to see his reaction in the coming weeks.
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