Mancini To Balotelli: Wake Up Before Your Career Sinks

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice
A file photo of Mario Balotelli

 

Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday urged Mario Balotelli to “wake up” before he throws his career away.

Balotelli’s ill-fated stint at hometown club Brescia appears to be coming to an end, with reports his contract will be terminated after repeated absences from training.

“I’ve told him a thousand times that he’s wasting a huge talent,” Mancini told Italian television.

“I have loved Mario very much since he was a boy and he has done extraordinary things. He has a crazy physique, speed, technique, and at 30 he is in the middle of his career.

“I hope that one day he will wake up and change.”

READ ALSO: Watford Snatch Late Point As Liverpool Prepare For Title Push

Mancini recalled Balotelli to the Italy squad when he took over as coach in May 2018, having successfully worked with the forward at Manchester City and Inter Milan.

Balotelli, who has 36 caps for Azzurri but only one since 2014, joined Brescia last summer in the hope of winning a place in Mancini’s Euro 2020 squad, but has scored just five times in 19 matches for the club.

He made his debut with local team Lumezzane in Serie C as a 16-year-old, before moving to Serie A giants Inter in 2007, where he won three league titles and the Champions League.

He later had two spells at AC Milan and also played for Liverpool, Nice and Marseille.

AFP

Lazio Fined €20,000 For Balotelli Racist Abuse

 

Lazio were fined 20,000 euros on Wednesday for the racist abuse some of their fans aimed at Mario Balotelli during their 2-1 Serie A win at Brescia at the weekend.

In its decision, the disciplinary committee of the Italian football federation (FIGC) referred to “racially discriminatory” chants in the 21st and 29th minutes, and “insulting chants” on three occasions, all aimed at Balotelli.

The disciplinary committee also requested further investigation saying it wanted, among other things, proof of Lazio’s “effective collaboration in identifying the individuals involved.”

Lazio, who after the game issued a statement condemning the behaviour of a “tiny minority” of fans, subsequently promised to “prosecute” those responsible.

Balotelli gave Brescia the lead after 18 minutes of the match on Sunday and shortly afterwards complained to the referee about the abuse.

“It’s already the second time,” Balotelli told referee Gianluca Manganiello after half an hour, with the latter replying: “Now I’ll take care of it”.

The referee briefly interrupted the match, and while an announcement was read over the stadium speakers reminding spectators that play would be suspended and their club penalised if they continued, Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi gestured in front of the visiting fans to stop the chanting.

“Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU! #saynotoracism”, Balotelli posted on Instagram after the game.

Racist incidents have been a recurrent problem in Italian stadiums in recent seasons.

In addition to Balotelli, Inter Milan stroker Romelu Lukaku, AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, Fiorentina’s Brazilian Dalbert and Ronaldo Vieira of Sampdoria have already been victims this campaign.

AFP

Balotelli Threatens To Leave Pitch After Racist Abuse In Verona Defeat

Inter Milan’s Croatian defender Marcelo Brozovic vies with Brescia’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli during the Italian Serie A football match Brescia vs Inter Milan on October 29, 2019 at the Mario-Rigamonti stadium in Brescia. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Mario Balotelli threatened to leave the pitch on Sunday after apparently hearing racist abuse by Hellas Verona fans before scoring for Brescia in their 2-1 Serie A defeat.

With his side a goal down to Eddie Salcedo’s powerful header Balotelli, who has been a frequent target for racist chants during his three spells playing in his home country, booted the ball into the crowd after around an hour and charged towards Verona fans.

Pointing towards his ears, the former AC Milan and Manchester City striker then tried to leave the pitch, only to be stopped by his teammates and Verona players, some of whom hugged him.

The match was suspended for a few minutes before a message was read out of the stadium loudspeaker threatening both teams would all leave the field if there was a repeat of any abuse.

The message was whistled loudly by a large number of the home fans, who have a notorious reputation in Italy for hard-right politics and open racism.

With the game back underway Matteo Pessina doubled the hosts lead when he squeezed home a neat finish with nine minutes left before Balotelli pulled one back with a superb curling long-range effort.

Balotelli’s side remain in the bottom three after the defeat, while Verona jumped up to ninth, level on points with Fiorentina ahead of their match with Parma.

A number of black players have been racially abused by supporters in Italy in the opening weeks of the season, with Milan midfielder Franck Kessie targeted by Verona fans in September and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku abused by Cagliari fans, also serial offenders.

Balotelli has a particularly hostile relationship with Verona fans, who six years ago targeted him with ironic cheers after then-mayor of the city Flavio Tosi called him a “troublemaker” who brought racist abuse on himself.

stt/dif/td/iwd

Balotelli Scores First Brescia Goal In Defeat To Napoli

Brescia’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli (Front) shoots a free kick as (FromL) Napoli’s Spanish forward Jose Callejon, Napoli’s Spanish defender Fabian Ruiz and Napoli’s Belgian forward Dries Mertens jump to defend during the Italian Serie A football match Napoli vs Brescia on September 29, 2019 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples. Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

 

Mario Balotelli scored his first goal for new club Brescia but the promoted northerners still fell to a 2-1 defeat to Napoli in Serie A action on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Italian international headed in after 67 minutes in his second match for his hometown club having missed four games because of a ban he incurred with former club Marseille.

First-half goals by Dries Mertens and Kostas Manolas ensured Napoli took all three points after their midweek loss to Cagliari, to boost confidence ahead of their Champions League trip to Belgian club Genk.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli stay fourth with 12 points from six games, six behind league leaders Inter Milan who beat Sampdoria 3-1 on Saturday.

Inter have a maximum 18 points from six games — two ahead of Juve — after winning their first six league matches for the first time since the 1966-67 season.

Juventus beat SPAL 2-0 to stay second with Atalanta third — a point ahead of Napoli — after thrashing Sassuolo 4-1 on Saturday.

“Suffering is natural in these games if you don’t kill it off with 3-0 and then concede a goal, it all opens up again,” Ancelotti told DAZN.

“But all in all I’m satisfied.

“We played an excellent first half, the second was less impressive, but it was very hot and the players were tired.”

Balotelli carried his daughter Pia, who lives in Naples with her mother and was decked out in the Napoli colours, onto the pitch at the San Paolo Stadium.

The home side were without Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly who has been given a two-match ban for his red card in the Cagliari game.

Ancelotti’s side went ahead after 13 minutes. Mertens connected with a Jose Callejon cross to blast in his 114th goal in a Napoli jersey — one shy of Argentine legend Diego Maradona’s total from 1984 to 1991. Slovak Marek Hamsik leads both with 121.

The 32-year-old Belgian international has been in form this season with four goals in five Serie A games. He also converted a penalty in the 2-0 Champions League win over holders Liverpool.

Manolas thought he had scored on 19 minutes but the goal was ruled out after a VAR review. The Greek defender did head in just before the break off a Mertens corner.

Napoli’s tempo dipped after the break allowing the promoted side to get back into the game.

There with a nervy final half hour after Balotelli got his head to a Sandro Tonali corner to serve notice to Italy coach Roberto Mancini of his ambitions to play Euro 2020.

It was his first goal in Italy in four years but Balotelli’s losing streak to Napoli stretched to eight games — having never won while playing for both Milan clubs, Manchester City, Nice and now Brescia.

Brescia slip to 14th in the table after their fourth defeat in six games.

AS Roma play in Lecce later on Sunday with AC Milan hosting Fiorentina.

AFP

Ronaldo To Miss Balotelli’s Brescia Debut

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice
A file photo of Mario Balotelli

 

Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Mario Balotelli’s debut game for Brescia with the Juventus star ruled out of Tuesday’s match with a slight adductor injury.

“Mario will be there Tuesday,” confirmed coach Eugenio Corini of the Italian striker whose debut was delayed by a four-game suspension for former club Marseille.

But Ronaldo may miss the date with Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri revealing the Portuguese star had picked up a slight adductor problem.

“Cristiano has a little fatigue to the adductors,” said Sarri.

“I don’t want to take any risk with injuries,” he added with two Serie A fixtures this week before hosting Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on October 1.

“Brescia are a dangerous team. The game is undoubtedly a tricky one and Balotelli’s debut can give them an extra boost.”

Balotelli, 29, has been getting fit during his absence as he looks to impress Italy coach Roberto Mancini and earn a spot in the Euro 2020 team.

“My objective is to play for Italy at the Euros, but my main aim right now is to get into shape as quickly as possible for Brescia,” Balotelli told DAZN.

It will be Balotelli’s third time playing in Italy after Inter Milan and AC Milan.

“I’ve worked harder in the last month and a half than in a decade,” continued the former Liverpool striker.

“I’m ready. I’ve only played two friendlies, and have not played 90 minutes, but I am in great shape. The last time I was at this weight, I was at Manchester City.”

Balotelli, who has 36 caps for Italy, has not crossed paths with Ronaldo in a decade since the Portuguese was playing for Manchester United.

But he insisted: “Ronaldo’s presence doesn’t really interest me. I’ll try to score and play the way I will in any game.”

The Italian won three Serie A titles with Inter Milan and the Champions League in 2010 before moving to Manchester City where he won the Premier League title in 2012.

Brescia were promoted to Serie A this year, after being relegated in 2011, and are 11th in Serie A after two wins in four games.

Juventus are trailing leaders Inter Milan by two points, but Antonio Conte’s side also face a tricky test against Lazio in the San Siro.

Napoli, in third, host Cagliari with AS Roma hosting Atalanta.

At the bottom of the table Fiorentina chase their first win against Sampdoria who moved ahead of the Tuscans after beating Torino for their first points this season.

Torino want to avoid a third consecutive league defeat at home against AC Milan, who are 12th.

One to watch: Racism

FIFA president Gianni Infantino weighed in after the on-going problem with racism in Italian stadiums took centre stage again at the weekend.

Fiorentina’s Brazilian defender Dalbert asked the referee to halt play against Atalanta on Sunday after racist chanting.

“We need clear sentences, as in England, we must not be afraid to condemn the racists,” said Infantino.

Inter Milan’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and AC Milan’s Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie have been targeted by monkey cries this season without any sanction being taken.

AC Milan have announced they were establishing an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

Key stats

902 – Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has matched Paolo Maldini’s Italian record of club matches and can overtake that figure this week

13 – Napoli’s goals in the first four league games; the second best performance after  15 in the 2017/2018 season

4 – Mario Balotelli’s goals against Juventus — three in Coppa Italia; one in Serie A

2 – Cristiano Ronaldo’s league goals this season

Fixtures (all times GMT):

Tuesday

Verona v Udinese (1700GMT), Brescia v Juventus (1900)

Wednesday

AS Roma v Atalanta (1700), SPAL v Lecce, Genoa v Bologna, Parma v Sassuolo, Napoli v Cagliari, Inter Milan v Lazio, Fiorentina v Sampdoria

Thursday

Torino v AC Milan (1900)

AFP

Balotelli Happy To Be Home In Brescia

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice
A file photo of Mario Balotelli

 

Mario Balotelli said on Monday he had “thought of nothing else” after receiving an offer from Brescia, the club in the city where he grew up.

“I chose Brescia because when their offer came in, I didn’t think about anything else,” the much-travelled striker said at his presentation press conference. “Here, I have everything I need, because it’s the team of my city.”

Balotelli was born in Palermo but grew up in Brescia, in northern Italy, where he owns an apartment.

The club were promoted to Serie A this year, after being relegated in 2011.

“I have spent more years abroad than in Italy,” said Balotelli who was without a club after his brief contract with Marseille ran out at the end of last season. “My mother cried when she heard that I was coming back to Brescia, she was very happy.”

“And my father dreamed of seeing me play at home.”

“I have no fear. The objective is to make this team progress, by giving the team what I can give it. I think you’re the one who’s most afraid,” the striker also said.

The 29-year-old has won 36 caps for Italy but only one since 2014. He said hopes to be called up again.

“Absolutely, yes,” he said, adding that Italy coach Roberto Mancini had sent him a message of congratulations.

Balotelli has been the victim of racism from fans in Italy.

“I hope from my heart to find a different league and not experience new episodes of racism,” he said.

Balotelli, who has to complete a four-game suspension for a red card while playing for  Marseille, cannot make his debut until the fifth round of Serie A on September 25 when Brescia host champions Juventus.

Balotelli made his debut in local team Lumezzane in Serie C as a 16-year-old, before moving to Serie A giants Inter Milan in 2007. He later had two spells at AC Milan and also played for Manchester City, Liverpool and Nice.

Sky Sports Italia reported Balotelli has signed a three-year deal worth three million euros ($3.3 million) for the first year, plus a further three million if the club remains in Serie A.

In the following two years he will receive six million euros per season if Brescia remain in Serie A, Sky reported.

AFP

Balotelli Set For Return To Italy

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice
A file photo of Mario Balotelli

 

Mario Balotelli is poised for a return to Italy with newly-promoted home town team  Brescia, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Balotelli, who was born in Sicily but adopted and raised just outside the northern city, is set to sign a three-year deal with the Serie B champions after being released by Marseille in June, Gazzetta Della Sport and Sky Sport Italia reported.

Gazzetta said the deal was worth roughly of three million euros ($3.3 million) including bonuses a season to the Italian international.

READ ALSO: Judgement Day For Real Madrid As Zidane’s Second Coming Begins

The 29-year-old has reportedly rejected a move to Brazilian club Flamengo as he pushes for a place in the national team as Euro 2020 approaches.

Balotelli, who has 36 caps for Italy, has not featured on the international stage since last September as Italy coach Roberto Mancini said he was not playing at a high enough standard.

Brescia have been promoted back to the top flight for the first time since being relegated in 2011.

Balotelli last played in Serie A with AC Milan on loan from Liverpool in the 2015-2016 season.

It was his second spell at AC Milan after 2013-2014. He was part of the Inter Milan side coached by Jose Mourinho that won the Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble in 2010.

He won three Serie A titles with Inter before switching to Manchester City and helping them claim the Premier League crown in 2012.

Balotelli Celebrates Goal With Selfie Video On Instagram

Marseille’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli (L) takes a selfie with teammates after scoring during the French L1 football match between Olympique de Marseille and AS Saint-Etienne at the Velodrome Stadium in Marseille, southern France on March 3, 2019. GERARD JULIEN / AFP

 

Mario Balotelli showed off a new goal celebration on Sunday as he took a selfie video with his Marseille teammates and posted it on social media during their 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne.

The Italian scored his fourth goal in six Ligue 1 games since joining Marseille from Nice in January by hooking home Florian Thauvin’s 12th-minute corner with an excellent acrobatic volley.

“Balotelli takes the pressure, he takes the limelight. He reminds me of (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic and he scored an Ibrahimovic goal,” said Saint-Etienne coach Jean-Louis Gasset.

“He has brought back the public, the confidence, and many of his teammates will raise their level of play.”

As he celebrated his volley, Balotelli took a phone from the cameraman behind the goal before filming the video with his laughing teammates and posting it on his Instagram story.

The 28-year-old then carried on playing.

He was not the first player to produce a selfie-based celebration after Roma great Francesco Totti took a picture of himself after scoring against Lazio in the capital-city derby in 2015.

Marseille doubled their advantage nine minutes later through a Thauvin penalty and closed out the win with ease.

Rudi Garcia’s men have now taken 13 points from their last five league matches to leapfrog Saint-Etienne into fourth, just five points adrift of Lyon in the race for the third and final Champions League spot.

Earlier on Sunday, Moussa Dembele scored twice as Lyon thrashed Toulouse 5-1 to strengthen their grip on a top-three spot.

READ ALSO: Federer Rises In Rankings After Clinching 100th Title

Bruno Genesio’s Lyon, who are also through to the French Cup semi-finals and claimed a 0-0 first-leg draw in the Champions League last 16 against Barcelona, continued their strong season by moving six points clear of fourth-placed Saint-Etienne.

“Often this season, we haven’t been calm under pressure, but against Toulouse, it was a good match,” said Lyon captain Nabil Fekir, whose 21-year-old younger brother Yassin made his Ligue 1 debut as a 79th-minute substitute.

“Playing with my brother was a huge pleasure.”

The home side took less than 10 minutes to break the deadlock at the Groupama Stadium as Memphis Depay fired home a wonderful individual goal.

Mathieu Dossevi levelled for Toulouse on the quarter-hour mark, but the visitors folded after Bertrand Traore restored Lyon’s advantage in the 30th minute.

Nabil Fekir netted a penalty five minutes later, and former Celtic striker Dembele compounded Toulouse’s misery in the second half.

He powered through the pitiful away defence midway through the second period and slotted a left-footed shot into the corner, before tapping in his 13th goal of the season shortly afterward from Fekir’s low cross.

Traore also had another goal ruled out by VAR for offside, while Toulouse finished the game with 10 men as former Bastia midfielder Yannick Cahuzac was sent off for the 11th time in his Ligue 1 career.

 Lille see off Dijon 

Lille remain second behind Paris Saint-Germain after Christophe Galtier’s men claimed a narrow 1-0 win over struggling Dijon.

With PSG still 17 points clear at the top with a game in hand, Lille are well-placed to secure a return to the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2012.

Dijon, who remain five points from safety in 19th spot, made life tough for Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy until Wesley Lautoa put through his own net in the 72nd minute.

“We will continue to work to be able to hold off the teams who want to take our place, qualifying for the Champions League is a dream we will try to achieve,” said Lille forward Rui Fonte.

Elsewhere, Patrick Vieira’s Nice boosted their hopes of qualifying for next season’s Europa League as Youcef Atal’s 20th-minute strike was enough to see off Strasbourg 1-0.

Nice are seventh in the table, four points adrift of Marseille.

AFP

Balotelli Completes Six-Month Move To Marseille

Olympique de Marseille new forward, Italian Mario Balotelli, shows his new jersey on January 22, 2019, at the Robert-Louis Dreyfus stadium in the southern port city of Marseille/ AFP

 

Marseille have completed the signing of Italy striker Mario Balotelli from their French rivals Nice, the Ligue 1 club confirmed on Wednesday.

Balotelli, 28, has signed for the former European champions until the end of the season after being released from the remainder of his contract by Nice and passing a medical at the Velodrome earlier in the day.

Balotelli netted 33 goals in 51 league appearances for Nice over the last two seasons but leaves the Cote d’Azur club without having found the net in the current campaign.

Having not featured for Patrick Vieira’s side since early December, Marseille coach Rudi Garcia has already ruled out any prospect of Balotelli starting when Marseille play Lille on Friday evening.

“I have always trained, but on my own, so I need a few days training with the team and I will be fine because physically I’m fit. I just need to get back into the rhythm of matches and training, that’s all,” Balotelli said at a press conference to announce his signing.

The impending arrival of the former AC Milan, Inter and Liverpool forward, who has scored 14 goals in 36 games for Italy, had been confirmed to AFP on Tuesday by sources close to the deal.

Garcia said this week that signing Balotelli was his “number one priority”.

OM are currently seventh in Ligue 1 and have struggled for goals after failing in an attempt to bring Balotelli to the club last summer.

Their main strikers, Valere Germain and Kostas Mitroglou, have scored just three league goals each so far this season, so they need Balotelli to find his feet quickly.

“At Nice, this season started a little badly, knowing that I was set to leave and then I didn’t leave,” Balotelli added.

“It was a problematic situation, but I’ll get over it. It wasn’t great because I wasn’t scoring goals because, in the end, if I had scored, no one would have said anything.”

Balotelli Completes Six-Month Move To Marseille

Nice’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli looks on during the French L1 football match between Guingamp (EAG) and Nice (OGCN) at the Roudourou stadium, in Guingamp, northwestern France. 
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Marseille have completed the signing of Italy striker Mario Balotelli from their French rivals Nice, the Ligue 1 club confirmed on Wednesday.

Balotelli, 28, has signed for the former European champions until the end of the season after being released from the remainder of his contract by Nice and passing a medical at the Velodrome earlier in the day.

The impending arrival of the former AC Milan, Inter and Liverpool forward, who has scored 14 goals in 36 games for Italy, had been confirmed to AFP on Tuesday by sources close to the deal.

Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said this week that signing Balotelli was his “number one priority”.

OM are currently seventh in Ligue 1 and have struggled for goals after failing in an attempt to bring Balotelli to the club last summer.

Their main strikers, Valere Germain and Kostas Mitroglou, have scored just three league goals each so far this season.

Balotelli netted 33 goals in 51 league appearances for Nice over the last two seasons but leaves the Cote d’Azur club without having found the net in the current campaign.

Having not featured for Patrick Vieira’s side since early December, Garcia has already ruled out any prospect of Balotelli starting when Marseille play Lille on Friday evening.

AFP

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice
A file photo of Mario Balotelli

 

Troublesome Italian striker Mario Balotelli has been given extended leave by French outfit Nice and told to make up his mind about his plans with the club.

Under contract at Nice until the end of the 2018-2019 season, the 28-year-old has scored 33 goals in 51 games since joining the Ligue 1 side in 2016.

Observers, however, feel Patrick Vieira — who took over as coach in June and has overseen just seven wins in 18 league matches — is ready to transfer Balotelli during the winter break with interest reported in England and Turkey.

“I have given Mario a few extra days off to think about his future and what he wants to do,” said Vieira, who played alongside the giant centre-forward at Manchester City and Inter Milan.

“He’s under contract here and everything is possible if we can come to a common agreement who knows,” said Vieira.

Balotelli came close to a move to Marseille over the summer and returned to training late and unfit after the deal fell through.

Balotelli Has Matured, Says Italy’s Skipper Bonucci

Italy’s striker Mario Balotelli (R) and Italy’s forward Lorenzo Insigne take part in a training session on May 24, 2018 at Coverciano’s training camp near Florence. Carlo BRESSAN / AFP

 

Italy captain, Leonardo Bonucci, said Sunday he believes that Mario Balotelli has matured as the Nice striker prepares to make his first appearance for the Azzurri in four years.

New Italy coach Roberto Mancini will oversee his first game in charge of the four-time world champions against World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia in a friendly on Monday night in Saint Gallen, Switzerland.

Mancini has called up 27-year-old Balotelli for three upcoming friendlies after the striker was sidelined by Italy by injury and behavioural problems in recent years.

“I’ve found him (Mario) changed compared to the past, matured,” 31-year-old AC Milan defender Bonucci told a press conference ahead of Monday’s game.

Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not been selected since Italy‘s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.

But he may have to wait until the second friendly against France on June 1 to make his return.

“As for Balotelli, we’ll see if he plays or not (against the Saudis). Mario wants to play in front of his fans in Nice. Let’s see if we deploy him immediately or in the second game,” said Mancini.

“He’ll be one of the strikers and we hope he can give us something good for the future because he’s still young.”

Mancini said that he had not yet decided on the lineup for Monday’s game with the only certainty that AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma would start.

“It’s the first game so it’s important to start well, which does not just mean winning,” said Mancini.

“The most important thing is that the lads play carefree and that they can have fun, even at the cost of making mistakes.”

Bonucci, meanwhile, said he was relishing his role of captain even if he missed the presence of veterans Gianluigi Buffon and Daniele De Rossi.

“There’s a strong sense of responsibility, but what surpasses everything is pride. I want to be a true example for the rest of lads,” said Bonucci.

Italy play a third friendly against the Netherlands, who also failed to qualify for the World Cup, in Turin on June 4.

AFP