Sometimes, you just know it’s going to be one of those days. Mario Balotelli probably felt like that on Saturday afternoon, when he trotted out for Nice’s Ligue 1 encounter against Nantes more than a minute after the match had kicked off.
The Italian had been named in the starting XI for Lucien Favre’s side, but he did not take part in the action for over 90 seconds due to a problem with his shoe laces.
Indeed, the striker needed to get someone from the dugout to tie them for him in one of the most bizarre acts of the season.
When he took to the field, things did not get a great deal better. Mario is still searching for his first Ligue 1 goal away from home this season and was unable to find the target at Stade de la Beaujoire, where his side fought back from a goal down to secure a point thanks to Jean-Michel Seri’s strike.
Despite the 1-1 draw, Nice find themselves seven points off the pace of leaders Monaco and have probably seen their title hopes disappear with eight matches of the campaign remaining.
Balotelli's contract with Nice is up at the end of the season, and there is already speculation that he could return to Italy, with Napoli among the clubs in the running. Agent Mino Raiola, however, told Radio C: “It is still too early to talk about his future.”
Balotelli has previously indicated he is happy at Nice and has suggested he is open to staying with the French side, but Favre’s decision to replace him seven minutes from time in Nantes was not one that pleased him.
The coach was pragmatic about the reaction, stating after the game: “I don’t know any players who are happy to be replaced, whoever they are. I remember when I was a player, I didn’t like to go off.”
Indeed, before the encounter, Balotelli once again posted a message encouraging his team-mates on Instagram.
In recent weeks, he has also posted tributes to his former clubs.
This time, it was Manchester City’s turn, as he reposted a video of him scoring with his shoulder against Norwich in the Premier League - perhaps the most casual goal scored in the history of the competition.
No doubt it is a goal he has shown the number one lady in his life, daughter Pia, who continues to star in his photos. This week, she was apparently caught disappointed having to go to bed while in the middle of dressing up as Elsa from Frozen.
Mario will have the chance to spend some more quality father-daughter time this week as he has once again missed out on the Italy squad, though no doubt he will be supporting the Azzurri from afar, always with an aim of returning to their ranks.
That is a long-term goal, though. His more immediate task is to help ensure Nice claim the third and final Champions League berth in Ligue 1. Bereft of Alassane Plea and Wylan Cyprien until the end of the season due to serious injury, there is a great level of expectation on Balotelli with two months of the campaign remaining.
To get back to Italy duty, success with Nice is the fastest possible route.