In two Ligue 1 matches, Mario Balotelli has scored twice as many goals as he did in the previous two seasons. You can say that’s because he’s taken a step down to a league that’s less demanding on a troubled striker than the Premier League or Serie A, but the positive reinforcement Nice has given him can’t be underestimated.
When Balotelli signed for the club that is developing a reputation for rehabilitating the careers of players with reputations as undesirables, hundreds of fans turned up to greet him at his first training session. When he exited Wednesday’s 4–0 win over Monaco with a brace, helping Nice hop over their opponents in the table to claim first place, the fans sang “La-la-la-la-la-la-la, Su-per Ma-rio.” He later replied on Instagram by thanking them and L’Equipe for putting him on their front page.
À la Une de ce jeudi 22 septembre : les compliments de Super Mario et nos révélations sur les rapports tendus entre Emery et Ben Arfa ! pic.twitter.com/KIK7wX7N4e
— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) September 21, 2016
Balotelli is getting hugs from his teammates an no former Nice players are criticizing him for scoring goals. All of this, paired with his improved health creates the conditions necessary for Balotelli — or any player, really — to succeed.
It’s nice to see Mario on the path towards proving Jamie Carragher wrong.
Balotelli on a free is still paying over the odds by Nice.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 31, 2016