FRANCE: Italian international striker Mario Balotelli signed a new deal with French Ligue 1 outfit Nice on Sunday after spearheading their qualification for the Champions League in his first season. “OGC Nice are delighted to confirm that Mario Balotelli has signed a new contract with the club,” Nice wrote on their Twitter account, without revealing the length of the deal. A source close to the negotations on Thursday had suggested Balotelli could extend his stay in Nice by two years with a monthly salary of 450,000 euros ($502,000). Balotelli, who played in Italy for AC Milan and Inter Milan and England with Liverpool and Manchester City, joined Nice last August and scored 17 goals in 28 appearances as the club came third — their best finish in 41 years.
Balotelli’s move to Nice was seen by many as a last roll of the dice for a player who endured two miserable seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16 before landing at the Allianz Riviera on a free transfer. The Italian helped fire Nice into the qualifying rounds for next season’s Champions League — after Lucien Favre’s side finished behind Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain — but Balotelli was also sent off three times.
He was also the target of racist abuse from Bastia fans and found himself dropped over his attitude — an issue Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura said Balotelli must address if he is to fight his way back into contention for the 2018 World Cup. Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere had said earlier in the week that Balotelli was very keen to remain with the club after resurrecting his faltering career last season. “I can tell you three things – one, he’s a player who wants to continue with us; two, he’s ready to make a financial effort; three, discussions are continuing,” said Rivere on Thursday