Nice - Wayward Italian striker Mario Balotelli has insisted
that French club Nice have not taken a risk in signing him from Liverpool.
"The career that I have had, it's different to what has
been written in the press," Balotelli said at a press conference on Friday
as he and fellow new signing Younes Belhanda, the French-born Moroccan
international playmaker, were unveiled.
"To me I don't represent a risk. I have had fitness
problems, but a risk? No!"
The 26-year-old signed a one-year deal at the Allianz
Riviera after being allowed to leave Anfield on a free transfer, but Nice are
reported to be paying their new recruit an annual salary of 4.5 million euros
(3.8 million pounds, $5 million).
"We know the risk we are taking, but it's one I take
with pleasure," said Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere, whose club helped
successfully relaunch the career of France forward Hatem Ben Arfa last season.
Ben Arfa returned to his home country after a difficult time
in England and ended last season by being nominated for France's player of the
He was recalled to the national set-up and joined champions
Paris Saint-Germain over the summer.
Also read: Ballotelli to have medical at Nice - report
Balotelli struggled on loan at former club AC Milan last
season having made little impact at Liverpool in the previous campaign.
During his Manchester City days he became better known for
his off-field antics, and one journalist asked Balotelli if Nice supporters
should be worried about the number of nightclubs on the Cote d'Azur given the
Italian's reputation as something of a party boy.
"I prefer not to hear that question," replied the
player, who insisted his decision to join Nice was "purely sporting".
"My priority was to play. I spoke to the coach (Lucien
Favre) and he really wanted me. I hope that this year will be very good. That's
Balotelli could make his Nice debut in the Mediterranean
derby at home to Marseille on Sunday, September 11.
"He has enormous qualities. I have seen clips of his
best moments and it was impressive, but this is a long-term job," said
Swiss coach Favre.
"Everything will depend on how willing he is. His
fitness is the basis. Otherwise, I have no doubts about his technical
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