Mino Raiola expecting big 2017 from Mario Balotelli

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Mario Balotelli's career renaissance in France was exactly what he needed after two frustrating years at Liverpool.

The often controversial striker failed to make an impact during his time at Anfield and was subsequently allowed to join Ligue 1 side Nice on a free transfer at the end of the summer window.

Balotelli has made his presence in the French top-flight clear with a string of fine performances for Lucien Favre's side.

Six goals from just five appearances have catapulted the 26-year-old back into the media spotlight and for a change, not because of an off-field misdemeanour.

Of course, Balotelli has always backed himself to become one of the best players in the world but his lack of maturity has often halted his progress to the very top.

And it looked like the summer move to France would be the Italian's last chance to succeed - one has he taken with aplomb so far.

His agent, Mino Raiola, has been one of Balotelli's few loyal supporters throughout the various troubling problems the striker has had to deal with and has now backed his client to finally achieve his potential at the age of 26.

Raiola, who also represents Zlatan Ibrahimovic, believes Balotelli can be one of the best strikers around if he can stay fit this season.

“Mario Balotelli must continue like this. We are all very happy about the choice he made. He’s found a familiar environment in the French Riviera and 2017 can be his year. If he’s fit he can be among the four best strikers in the world,” Raiola told Corriere dello Sport.

“Do you remember Nedved’s first season at Juventus? The same can be applied to Paul Pogba at Manchester United. New league, new squad, new teammates.

"He has to settle in well in such a different environment from Turin, but his development is only a matter of time.”

Raiola is no stranger to making crazy predictions but this must definitely rank as one of his boldest.

As well as keeping fit, Balotelli will also need to maintain his discipline to continue his good form.

The Nice striker was sent off in their last game for receiving a second yellow just minutes after his first but it has been overturned after the referee admitted making a mistake.

Balotelli's reputation will continue to precede him throughout the campaign and it is something he will have to handle to stand any chance of being regarded amongst the world's top four.

Ligue 1
Premier League
Mario Balotelli
Italy Football

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