Mino Raiola claims that Mario Balotelli could have joined another English club prior to his deadline day departure from Liverpool and still harbours a desire to return to international football with Italy.
The former Azzurri striker, who failed to impress Jurgen Klopp this summer upon his return from a disappointing loan spell with former club AC Milan, was linked with a host of European clubs including the likes of Besiktas, Ajax, FC Sion and Palermo before eventually opting to join Ligue 1 side OGC Nice on a free transfer.
"Nice was a technical decision," his agent told Premium Sport, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo. "We had alternatives in England, Spain, Germany and Italy, but Mario is happy.
"Football is too serious. In life there is no such thing as a final destination when you're willing to get back in the game. Mario is focused on Nice, although the Italian national team is always on his mind.
"There is great warmth here. It's the perfect environment for Mario. We've chosen an ideal technical project for him."
Balotelli was officially unveiled to the media as a Nice player at the Allianz Riviera stadium on Friday (2 September), alongside Dynamo Kiev loanee Younes Belhanda. Speaking ahead of a possible debut for Lucien Favre's third-place side in the Mediterranean derby against Marseille next weekend, the 26-year-old revealed why he spurned his seemingly extensive list of suitors and instead settled on a move to southeastern France.
"The decision was only a sporting one," he told the gathered press. "Other teams wanted me but Nice is a good project. The coach believes in me and that's why I'm here."
The controversial Balotelli's footballing stock has reached an all-time low after he managed just one goal in 20 appearances back at Milan, who did not deem him worthy of a permanent return to the San Siro. However, Nice, who finished fourth in Ligue 1 last term to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League and have amassed seven points from their opening three matches of 2016/17 against Rennes, Angers and Lille, have a proven recent track record when it comes to rehabilitating the careers of players with troublesome reputations.
Hatem Ben Arfa had previously been released by Newcastle United in the aftermath of a torrid loan spell at Hull City, but went on to net 17 goals in his one season for Les Aiglons under Claude Puel before attracting attention from Barcelona and eventually joining Paris Saint-Germain on a two-year deal in Juy.
Former France World Cup winner Christophe Dugarry recently told radio station RMC that Ben Arfa was "like a choirboy" in comparison to Balotelli and Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere accepts that the deal will be seen as a risk.
"I never take a player if he does not fit with the coach or the squad," he said. "The press says we are taking a huge risk with Mario. We assume that risk."