Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere has conceded that there is only ‘a small chance’ of the club keeping Mario Balotelli past the end of the season.
The Italy international moved to France as a free agent over the summer, having agreed to part company with Liverpool.
His struggles in England led to a loan spell at former employers AC Milan being taken in during the 2015-16 campaign, but Balotelli failed to raise his game back at the San Siro, with just seven goals netted over the course of the previous two campaigns.
He has already matched that return in 2016-17, with Nice riding high towards the top of the Ligue 1 table.
They did, however, only sign Balotelli to a one-year contract and are aware that he could leave for nothing at the end of that agreement.
Rivere told Telefoot: “There may be a small chance to keep him, but it is really small so we will have to see what happens.”
Nice found themselves in a similar situation last season, as Hatem Ben Arfa enjoyed a renaissance at Allianz Riviera.
He eventually left for Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent, but Rivere does not buy into the belief that his club are losing out when top talents move on.
“You know what the situation is when you make deals for a season, as was the case with Hatem,” he added.
“People say ‘Ah, but you did not keep them and did not recover any money in a transfer’, but it is all positive and money is recovered indirectly.”
For now, Nice intend to make the most of Balotelli’s presence, with Rivere adamant that the enigmatic frontman has no good behaviour clause in his contract.
He said: “He’s young. He has had a few things happen in the past, but he’s a good boy.
“He has no good behaviour clause but I do not comment on the contracts of players in general.”