Balotelli names Vieira as essential to Nice decision


Mario Balotelli has pinpointed Nice's appointment of Patrick Vieira as a major factor in his decision to spurn enticing offers from Marseille and China.

The 28-year-old revealed his reasons for remaining at the Allianz Riviera during a lengthy club interview in which he insisted he "could have left very easily".

Vieira, who took over in June, criticised Balotelli failing to show at the beginning of the pre-season in an apparent attempt to force through a move, which was long expected to be to Ligue 1 rivals Marseille.

But the former Inter, Manchester City and Milan striker highlighted the former New York City boss as playing a large part in convincing him to turn down the five "concrete" offers he entertained.

"That changed like 80 per cent of my decision," Balotelli said of Vieira's arrival.

"I spoke with the president and Patrick. The way they spoke to me and the proposition they made, it was good. I spoke with my agent and told him let's do one more here.

"Maybe to change now is – I'm not saying it's stupid, because maybe I wanted to change before – but when I thought about this, maybe it was better to finish when I'm sure I find myself very well.

"I didn't risk to change now when I have only one more year [on my contract]."

Balotelli did strongly hint this season would be his last at Nice and he is receptive to the possibility of a stint in the Chinese Super League.

However, the Italy international's hope of securing a place in Roberto Mancini's squad at Euro 2020 means he will remain in Europe in the short term.

"I had a very big offer in China, but I said no. Not for now," he explained.

"These two years are very important because I want to play the European Championships with the national team and if I go to China it would be difficult.

"That's why I also, not refuse, but prefer to wait to go to China. I still love football. Money will come later."