It looked like former Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli had turned the corner at Nice, having hit the ground running in France since his summer switch to Ligue 1.
He’s scored nine goals in 11 top flight starts for his new club, but at the weekend, he was dropped by manager Lucien Favre – who had decided Balotelli’s lack of work-rate on the pitch simply isn’t what’s required.
“I don’t want to talk about Mario, because we’ve been discussing his work helping out in defence since the start of the season,” Favre said in a press conference, as reported by Football Italia.
“We take all the good things that Mario has given us so far, but what can I do? What is a Coach to do? I have to start the best possible line-up based on my ideas.
“Everyone knows this has been an issue hard-wired into his game for years and it will take him a while to adjust. I don’t want to hold a press conference just to talk about Balotelli.”
If this wasn’t damning enough, Balotelli’s Nice team-mate Valentin Eysseric stuck the boot in too – claiming it feels like the forward wants nothing to do with the squad.
“I’m sorry, but I was honest,” he told BeIN Sports. “I told the truth. It is a shame he lets his head drop, you see him in training every day. He’s such a great player.
“I think he looks like he wants nothing to do with us. It’s really disappointing. We could’ve really used his help in a game like this.
“We know the coach demands enormous effort from his squad. He won’t accept anyone taking their foot off the gas and you saw that with Mario Balotelli.”
Jurgen Klopp had no time for Balotelli, refusing to select him in any of his pre-season squads and allowing him to leave for nothing.
It’s almost funny how bad a match they would have been for each other, with Liverpool’s boss anti-ego and pro-team; the antithesis of the 26-year-old Italian.
Balotelli always had nice things to say about our supporters, so we don’t wish him any ill-feeling, but would encourage him to start putting in the work it takes to be a professional footballer. Talent only goes so far, as the past few years of his career has proven.