Roberto Mancini has backed Mario Balotelli to surpass the 20-goal mark at Nice and is hopeful the striker can still become one of the best players in the game.
Balotelli has made a superb start to life at Nice after underwhelming spells with Liverpool and AC Milan, scoring six goals in five appearances in all competitions.
Mancini – who worked with Balotelli at Inter and Manchester City – has nothing but fond memories of the attacker and is delighted to see the 26-year-old getting back to his former best.
“Everybody has something to say about Mario and I think that must be tiresome for him,” Mancini told L’Equipe.
“I think he is fantastic. He is special for everything he does. He should score at least 20 goals at Nice. Scoring goals should be normal for him.
“I remember playing him a lot at the end of the 2007-08 campaign. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was injured and Mario did very well. I was convinced that he would become a star. But he could not deal with the pressure at the age of 17. Maybe his rise to prominence went too fast.
“He’s a very good lad, with a big heart. Sometimes he can get on your nerves, but it’s impossible not to wish him well.
“Nice have now given him a chance again and he has to take it and enjoy himself. He is still relatively young, but his career is going very fast. I hope he can still become a great player.”
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