Mario Balotelli has vowed to “fly a helicopter over Nice” if the club pull off a shock Ligue 1 title triumph this season.
Nice surprisingly lead the French top flight by three points and Balotelli, 26, has contributed six goals in as many league games since his summer arrival from Liverpool.
Paris Saint-Germain have won the Ligue 1 crown in each of the last four seasons, and with Unai Emery’s men just three points back in third place, they remain favourites.
However, should Nice upset the odds as Leicester City did in the Premier League last season, Balotelli already has his celebration planned.
“I’m happy here [at Nice]. I’ve settled in very quickly in this fantastic place,” he told Mediaset. “There are a lot of youngsters in the team and the coach is very good and I’ve found everything favourable. There’s still a long way to go, but if we do win the title, I’m going to fly a helicopter over Nice.”
Balotelli moved to Nice to revive a career that had fallen flat at Liverpool where — after spending last season on loan at AC Milan — he was told he was surplus to Jurgen Klopp’s requirements in the summer.
“I think of [playing for] Manchester City — winning the Premier League was fantastic and I think it’s unrepeatable,” said Balotelli when asked about his thoughts on England before turning to Liverpool, whom he joined in 2014.
“I know that it’s half-an-hour from Manchester, but I don’t know it very well. Nice’s support is better than Liverpool’s, which doesn’t mean that the fans are better, but that there is more warmth in their support. [Liverpool] did me a favour by selling me.”
Speculation has already emerged that Balotelli, who penned a one-year deal, is using Nice as a springboard to a bigger side come next summer.
The striker, however, is adamant his immediate focus is on his current club, not on any prospective employers.
“Before I joined Milan I was meant to go to Juventus, but then there were a few problems and the transfer didn’t go through,” he said. “[Sinisa] Mihajlovic is right that the only reason I did not explode last year was because of physical problems.
“I love Napoli and Neapolitans — my daughter lives there, but coming back to Italy is not part of my plans at the moment. I’m only thinking about Nice and France.”
Balotelli’s presence at Italy’s goalless draw with Germany at the San Siro on Tuesday raised questions about his status with the Azzurri. He has not played for his country since winning his 33rd cap during the 2014 World Cup.
Balotelli insisted he was merely attending the match as a spectator.
“I’m here for a Puma event and I’ve got a free evening so I’m going to San Siro because I’m a fan of the Italy national team and I always have been,” he said. “I like to see in person how they play. I want to understand the mentality of this team.”
Balotelli added that he has not yet spoken with Italy coach Giampiero Ventura.
“I’m not one for talking, I will have to show him what I am worth on the field,” he said. “I have to play the way Mario can.”
Balotelli admitted he cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines when Italy featured at Euro 2016, where his country exited at the quarterfinal stage after losing on penalties to Germany.
“To be honest, during the European Championships this summer, I was unable to watch Italy because I was too worked up,” he said. “I struggle to watch a side I really like a lot suffer without being able to help them.
“Since I was young, I always dreamed of playing for the national team and if I am not playing with them now then it means I am not doing enough, but there are no problems. When the coach feels I am ready to be called up, I’ll be there.”
Balotelli is fondly remembered for his brace in the Euro 2012 semifinal victory over Germany and he says he wants to live more nights like those with Italy.
“Everybody says [facing Germany in 2012 was the pinnacle of my career],” he said. “It was a dream of a night, we reached the final and it was fantastic. But everybody remembers me for this and I want to erase it because I want to write some more important chapters.”
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