Nice coach Lucien Favre says there is plenty of hard work ahead for Mario Balotelli after the striker’s goalscoring debut in Ligue 1.
Balotelli netted a first-half penalty and headed a 78th-minute equaliser before Wylan Cyprien’s long-range winner secured a 3-2 win over Marseille and left Nice joint-top of the table.
The 26-year-old is coming off a disappointing two years at Liverpool and Favre suggested the striker would have to overcome familiar shortfalls in his defensive contribution to perform to full effect.
“We know, you know, I know, everybody knows that there is still a lot of work to do,” he told reporters. “There’s no way to stop here. That’s just one game.
“The future is important. It is important to keep going ahead and making progress. He is not going to be able to do that in one shot.
“That’s just impossible. There is a terrific amount of work [to do]. Especially in the way he moves in a defensive way. The way he comes back to the position, still on a defensive way.
“In order at least to block the spaces available to the opponent that passes the ball. It’s a long term job.”
Bafetimbi Gomis was on target for Marseille before Balotelli sparked the late turnaround and the former Swansea City man believes bringing such players to Ligue 1 will only help to improve the profile of the French top flight.
“It’s important that players like him join this League,” he told reporters. “It gave us more visibility. It makes people talk about Ligue 1 in the world.
“I did not come back [to go] backwards. I think it’s a great league that can be [unfairly] denigrated. Many clubs do [well] with what’s available.
“They don’t have the funds some other leagues have. If we can make more advertising for Ligue 1 and [bring in] some great players who are struggling in other great European leagues to bounce back in Ligue 1 it will be a great help for some teams.”
Gomis added that France’s successful hosting of Euro 2016 would also make their domestic competition more attractive.
“Some years ago it was not conceivable in the deepest nightmares of some players of this calibre to come play in Nice,” he explained.
“Today because of the Euro and some great stadiums, some players are coming over here and I’m very pleased for Ligue 1.”
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