Speaking in an exclusive interview with RMC, OGC Nice striker Mario Balotelli addressed a number of topics including the club’s Ligue 1 title aspirations, the Italian national team, and more.
On how he feels at OGC Nice:
Everything is going well. I feel really good here. We have exceptional fans. They really encourage us in all the matches, I thank them. It is a young team, younger than me. I was truly, really well welcomed and I am very happy here. It is true that there was a moment this year where I had a little problem. Then I picked up one or two cards that stopped me from playing in other matches. It annoyed me not being able to play because I felt good. Obviously, you need to play as much as possible to score as many goals as possible.
On his personal objectives:
There is Cavani who has scored how many already? 27? So you can say that I am far away. What is important for me is to play all the matches, because in almost all of my career, I have never had that opportunity.
On OGC Nice’s title aspirations:
It will not be easy because Monaco are five points ahead of us. But I do not play to be anything other than first. I am not interested in being second or third, I play to win. I want to win and in my opinion, we can do it. It is difficult, especially because we have tough matches coming up, but we can do it… We were first in the league for a long time. We proved that we can do it. I am not surprised. The squad is very strong.
On whether the OGC Nice project can establish itself as one of the best in Europe:
Yes, I hope so yes. As you say, I would sign for life here. If the football was at a European level, to live here, to have a new training centre, I cannot think of anywhere better!
On the quality of Ligue 1:
This is not an easy league, but I can’t compare it to the Premier League. It will always be the best league in the world. This is not an easy league, but I can’t compare it to the Premier League. It will always be the best league in the world. I thought that Ligue 1 would be easier. It is very physical and tactical.
Since I have arrived here, I have seen so many good players. Talented, young. I think the average is 22 here at Nice. It’s weird that the French league is not up there with the others, we need to find those problems and resolve them. Because it is very important [in the context of European football].
On the standard of refereeing in Ligue 1:
IIt is definitely a different league to what I was used to, Italy and England. The referees have a different way of judging things than I am used to. When I was sent off for the first time, when I went to Paris to go to the disciplinary commission… The top players of each club must be protected.
Because if you get fouled 25 times, of course there is going to be a reaction. Here there are some referees in France who are rigid. You have played, you know it is important to have communication with referees… The Italian league is better than the French league. In terms of organisation and refereeing.
On the quality of players at OGC Nice:
There are 4 players who really impress me: Jean-Michael Seri, Ricardo Pereira, Wylan Cyprien & Alassane Plea. I think they have enormous potential and will become big players. Dalbert too. I think they’ll stay at least 1 more year, because Nice is going to have a great season next season.
On his state of mind:
Honestly, I am the same here as I was at Inter. I am laughing with anyone.
I don’t like it… Modern football is like that, you have to work all week to be good on the weekend.
On AS Monaco and PSG:
Monaco impress me more than PSG, much more. PSG have good players but they don’t play as a team. I have not played against PSG much, I am not saying that they are not a good team. They are in the top places, like us. But without Zlatan they do not play like a team. They can win against anyone, they can lose to anyone.
Zlatan was the boss, without him it is not the same. Paris is not a team, unlike Monaco. On the contrary, PSG have phenomenons in their team, like Thiago Silva, Di Maria. Cavani is a great player but not a phenomenon. Monaco don’t have any phenomenons… Silva is really, really good though.
On Monaco vs Manchester City:
Tonight I am supporting Manchester City.
On the Italian national team:
I love the national team. But it is true that there are very good attackers at the moment. If they call me, I will be ready (Balotelli also indicated that he has not had any discussions with the Italian national team boss about an eventual return).
France is a wonderful country. But the South of France I really love. In previous holidays, I’ve been in Monaco. The sun, the sea… When we have to go play away matches in the North… I would not say it is disgusting, but it is cold, grey (Balotelli also admitted that he has not had an apartment in Paris because “it is too cold”).
On incidents of racism relating to the SC Bastia game:
The problem is that it is a problem that is bigger than football. During the match, I could not say anything. But that is not fair, it is not fair for others who couldn’t say anything (those with less big careers, or a social media following). So I said something for them… I have a nice life, I could say something. I want to speak about it.
On his character:
I have never been someone who wants to talk the whole time… When I was young, I never lost my head. I had a way of life, like every other young person… Me I love my family a lot. I have very few friends, but they are my true friends. There are few people who are close to me. I don’t care what people think. They only see me on the pitch for 90 minutes a week.
Don’t speak to me about Liverpool please.
On his youth career:
I nearly joined Barcelona, but the team that had me wanted money. So I ended up at Inter instead… Barcelona did not want to pay.