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Misfit Mario Balotelli joins France’s Nice

Nice (France) (AFP) – Controversial Italian international forward Mario Balotelli has joined Ligue 1’s Nice from Liverpool, the French side said on their internet site on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old known as ‘Super Mario’, whose career has stalled over the last two years, has signed a permanent deal, Nice said, without revealing the fee or its length.

“Mario Balotelli will train with us on Thursday and be officially presented to the press on Friday,” said Nice, who came fourth in Ligue 1 last season.

British media reported the striker has moved on a free transfer, with Liverpool avoiding having to pay off the unwanted striker’s hefty contract, as had been feared after a raft of European clubs refused to take him.

“We know, he and the club, that it will not be simple, but with desire and support from the fans, he cam blossom here and bring all his talent to the service of the team,” Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere said.

“We hope that in the family atmosphere at this club he will start to enjoy his game again.”

Nice have a recent track record of bringing wayward talent back to the boil after a similar experience last season with France international Hatem Ben Arfa, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain in the close season.

Liverpool bought Balotelli from AC Milan for 25 million euros ($27.9m) in 2014 but a year later loaned him back to the Italian giants, where he managed a paltry one goal in 20 matches.

Once considered a potential great, Balotelli scored a brilliant brace for Italy in their Euro 2012 2-1 semi-final win over Germany.

He also shone at the 2013 Confederations Cup where he was by a head and shoulders Italy’s best player, but since leaving Manchester City that summer his career has been in gradual decline.

Balotelli was shipped back to Milan on loan after just one campaign at Liverpool but his miserable spell at Anfield is finally over.

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