Nice signing Balotelli says his bad boy days are history
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The journeyed genius that is Mario Balotelli insisted on Friday that club directors at Nice had not taken a risk by signing him for a year.
"The career that I have had, it's different to what has been written in the press," Balotelli said as he and fellow new signing, Younes Belhanda were unveiled at the Allianz Riviera.
"To me I don't represent a risk. I have had fitness problems, but a risk? No."
The 26-year-old signed for Lucien Favre's team after being allowed to leave Liverpool on a free transfer.
The former Italy striker was drafted into Anfield by the then-manager Brendan Rogers in August 2014. But he did not impress on Merseyside and struggled when he was shunted back to Italy on loan at his former club AC Milan.
"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 France after a frustrating time in England. He ended last season by being nominated for France's player of the year award. He was recalled to the national squad and joined champions Paris Saint-Germain over the summer.
If Nice manage such a regeneration with Balotelli, Rivere's gamble will be hailed as inspirational for brilliance jostles with barminess within Balotelli.
Back in 2010 - during his prodigy era - he joined Manchester City for 30 million euros from Inter Milan. He scored 30 goals in 80 games as City won their first top flight title since 1968.
But City boss Roberto Mancini was unable to harness Balotelli's self-destructiveness and following a training ground bust-up with Mancini, Balotelli left for AC Milan. He went on to be one of Italy's better performers in their disappointing World Cup campaign in Brazil in 2014.
"My priority was to play," said Balotelli on Friday. "I spoke to the coach and he really wanted me. I hope that this year will be very good. That's all."
Balotelli could make his Nice debut in the Mediterranean derby at home to Marseille on 11 September.
"He has enormous qualities," said Favre. "I have seen clips of his best moments and it was impressive. But this is a long-term job. Everything will depend on how willing he is. His fitness is the basis. Otherwise, I have no doubts about his technical ability."