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Mario Balotelli is better behaved than in previous years – Dante

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Nice defender Dante feels that teammate Mario Balotelli has “improved in relation to previous years”

The Italian striker reported back to Nice two weeks later than planned and has struggled with being overweight with just three Ligue 1 appearances to his name this season.

But Dante, who criticised Balotelli following last week’s defeat to Montpellier, has now defended his under-fire teammate and insists that he has even toned down his touchy attitude.

“There’s not a problem,” Dante told RMC Sport.

“He’s a guy who works. He is committed. I think he’s even improved in relation to recent years. On the other hand, we know he came back from holiday with some extra weight.

“But he wants to come back. He wants to score goals again and help us, that’s the most important thing.

“I’m clear with him. I protect him. He’s a very good friend. And good friends are fair, they tell each other the truth.

“I try to help him because he puts a lot into it. For the moment, he doesn’t see the result so he’s disappointed, he’s sad. And that’s why he sometimes has that attitude.”

Balotelli came on as a second-half substitute in Nice’s 3-0 home defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.