Mario Balotelli has signed for hometown club Brescia after agreeing a “multi-year” contract with the Serie A outfit.
The Italy international was a free agent after his short-term deal with Marseille expired and when negotiations with Brazilian club Flamengo broke down he looked set to start the new season without a club.
But Brescia president Massimo Cellino told Gazzetta dello Sport Balotelli made it clear he wanted a move to Stadio Mario Rigamonti on August 12 – his 29th birthday.
“That day he expressed his desire to return to his city,” said Cellino of Balotelli, who spent much of his childhood in the region of Brescia.
“Hence all those rumours have only caused confusion, because there was no written agreement and Flamengo rushed to Monte Carlo to trip us up.”
Balotelli scored eight Ligue 1 goals in 15 appearances for Marseille in 2018-19 but the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League forced them to lower their wage budget and allow him to leave.
Prior to his move to Stade Velodrome, Balotelli impressed during a two-and-a-half-year spell at Nice, where he scored 33 league goals in his first 51 appearances, before enduring a difficult start to the 2018-19 campaign.
Cellino has high hopes for him at Brescia.
“I have good feelings,” said Cellino.
“I’m sure Mario will give everything for survival, which remains a difficult goal.
“It is also a way to thank Brescia, who is very close to me. I won’t talk about figures, but this operation costs a lot.”
Balotelli could make his debut when newly promoted Brescia begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Cellino’s former club Cagliari on Sunday August 25.