Balotelli completes move to Marseille

Olympique de Marseille new forward, Italian Mario Balotelli (C), shows his new jersey with president Jacques Henry Eyraud (R) and sport director Andoni Zubizareta at the Robert-Louis Dreyfus Stadium in Marseille Wednesday. — AFP

MARSEIILE — Marseille has completed the signing of Italy striker Mario Balotelli from its French rival Nice, the Ligue 1 club confirmed Wednesday.

Balotelli, 28, has signed for the former European champion 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 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 Tuesday by sources close to the deal.

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

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

Its 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." — AFP