Mario Balotelli claims he almost joined Barcelona as a youngster
The Italian, who has featured for Liverpool, Inter and Milan, was close to moving to Spain as a teenager.
What's the story?
In a surprising revelation, Nice striker Mario Balotelli has claimed that Barcelona were interested in signing him way back when he was a teenager. However, the deal did not go through as the club he was playing for at the time demanded more money.
"Barcelona wanted me but the club that had me at the time wanted money," said the Italian to Radio Monte Carlo.
The 26-year-old also opened up about his time at Manchester City and Liverpool. “Manchester City was a dream because there was a very Italian atmosphere. Don't talk to me about Liverpool, please. They were a team with stupendous people, fantastic fans, but the place..."
In case you didn’t know...
Balotelli has featured for some of the biggest names in Europe in the past with varying degrees of success. After moving to Inter in 2007 from Lumezzane, the Italian striker turned out for the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and AC Milan before finally moving back to France to play for Nice.
The heart of the matter
Balotelli has displayed his talent in flashes in the past – his goal for Italy against Germany being a prime example – and it is not surprising that the Blaugrana were interested in bringing him to Spain as a youngster. However, with the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Thierry Henry being the club’s prime attackers in the seasons gone by, Balotelli might not have been a regular starter.
Barcelona’s loss could be considered Inter’s gain as Balotelli produced some of his best football in the blue and black shirt of Inter, scoring 20 goals in 59 appearances.
At Nice, the Italian has found some of his best form again and has helped his side occupy the third spot, five points off leaders Monaco.
Nice take on Nantes on Saturday night and will be looking to gain all three points to mount the pressure on the top two. Balotelli, meanwhile, will be looking to add to his tally of 10 goals when he takes the field.
While it is impossible to know for sure if Balotelli would have indeed been a success at Barcelona, it suffices to say that the club have not really suffered in his absence. In fact, the presence of the Italian, who is known to be a troublemaker off the pitch, might even have hindered Messi’s rise to the top of the sport.