Mario Balotelli has been given a period of extended leave by Nice manager Patrick Vieira to think about his future at the club.
The 28-year-old Italian striker is currently involved in his third season with The Eaglets but was expected to leave the Ligue 1 outfit last summer.
What is the relationship like between Balotelli and Vieira? Five key things to know…
- Balotelli joined Nice on a free transfer after his contract with Liverpool was terminated in 2016.
- He would bag 15 goals across 23 league matches in his debut season (2016/17) before registering 18 in 28 the following campaign (2017/18).
- The departure of manager Lucien Favre, who reinvigorated Balotelli, led to Patrick Vieira’s appointment.
- Balotelli and Vieira were teammates at Manchester City however their relationship has become strained with the Nice boss stating he wants to at times “slam him up against the wall”.
- So far, under his leadership, Balotelli has played 10 league matches but has failed to score.
Balotelli remained thus reuniting with his former Manchester City teammate Patrick Vieira who succeeded Lucien Favre, the coach many observers felt reinvigorated the Italian marksman.
A combination of fitness issues and lacklustre approach meant Balotelli would feature sparsely under Vieira and with the winter transfer window now open the former Inter Milan and Liverpool man has been given time off to think about his future.
“I have given Mario a few extra days off to think about his future and what he wants to do,” Vieira told reporters.
“He’s under contract here and everything is possible, if we can come to a common agreement who knows.”
Vieira: “I have to think twice before I say anything…”
All of this comes on the back off an interview Vieira gave in which he outlined his relationship with Balotelli.
Often seen as a problem child wherever he’s been the Italian marksman has nevertheless settled in Nice following his 2016 transfer.
After seeing his contract with Liverpool terminated, Balotelli joined the Ligue 1 club and would register 15 goals across 23 league matches in his debut season (2016/17) before bagging 18 in 28 the following campaign (2017/18).
Vieira, unlike his predecessor Favre has not been able to get the best of Balotelli, which he recently discussed.
“I have to think twice before I say anything, because it can have an impact and I risk losing a great player,” he told L’Equipe (via Football Italia).
“When it comes to Mario, I want to answer back, or just slam him up against the wall or leave him hanging by his collar on the coat rack, but I can’t, as I’m no longer a player.
“I don’t want to say something I’ll regret. I am trying to be constructive in my comments to him.”