President Jacques-Henri Eyraud confirmed that Mario Balotelli has left Marseille after his contract with the club expired.
Following a failed attempt to join Marseille last summer, Balotelli returned to OGC Nice and endured a terrible start to last season.
Things got so bad at the Allianz Riviera, in fact, that the club’s manager Patrick Vieira was tempted to “slam him up against the wall or leave him hanging by his collar on the coat rack.”
Therefore, Balotelli and Nice agreed to terminate their contract to allow him to join Ligue 1 rivals Marseille on a free transfer in January.
The former Manchester City striker embarked on a welcome return to form at the Stade Velodrome. Overall, he finished with eight goals in 15 matches to help Marseille to a fifth-place finish in Ligue 1.
However, Les Olympiens failed to qualify for Europe after ending up four points behind fourth-place Saint-Etienne in the final Europa League qualification spot.
So, Marseille had no other choice but to allow Balotelli to leave this summer now that his six-month deal is over. They had hoped to offer him a new contract, but no European football means their wage budget has been lowered.
“At the moment we are [working] on two or three areas to adapt if there are unexpected departures and that we would have to replace,” Eyraud told L’Equipe.
“The attacking position has to be filled, since Mario Balotelli will not continue with Marseille. We are looking beyond the position of attacker, however, including centre-back.”
Marseille have already lost Lucas Ocampos to Sevilla this summer. Meanwhile, reports have linked World Cup winner Adil Rami and former AS Roma star Kevin Strootman with exits as well.
“I respect my players, I rub shoulders with them every day and I see how much pressure they are under,” continued Eyraud.
“I am very surprised by the media coverage that claims Rami has already left.
“What is certain, for me, is that Adil Rami must question himself, deeply, about his status, about his job as a professional footballer, about his rights and duties as a player, and moreover a world champion.
“With Adil, I am very frank, very direct, as always, and I will make a decision at the end of this discussion.
“I cannot wait to have it [the discussion with Rami], and to have this exchange with him, which will take place this week.”