Balotelli at Marseille due to Drogba pep talk

Mario Balotelli Marseille Amiens Ligue 1 16022019
The enigmatic Italian striker traded clubs in Ligue 1 when leaving Nice in January, but not before discussing his options with a legendary frontman

Didier Drogba has revealed that he helped to talk Mario Balotelli into making a move to Marseille.

The enigmatic Italian striker made a switch to Stade Velodrome during the January transfer window.

He traded Ligue 1 clubs after finding himself questioned and struggling for regular minutes at Nice.

Patrick Vieira was not convinced of the 28-year-old’s attitude and allowed him to head for the exits.

Nice’s loss has been Marseille’s gain, with Balotelli opening a new chapter in his colourful career with five goals in seven appearances.

He appears to have rediscovered his spark, with legendary former Chelsea frontman Drogba playing a part in that renaissance.

A man who burst onto the scene at Marseille during his own career told Ligue 1’s official website: “I am very happy for Balotelli, especially because we talked about it for a while before he went there.

“I told him: ‘You have this opportunity, so take it, because it’s a club that will be good for you.’ And now Mario is really doing well. He’s started scoring again and I am happy.”

Balotelli’s efforts at Marseille have not been enough to earn him an international recall, with Roberto Mancini overlooking him for the latest Italy squad.

Nicolas Pepe Saint-Etienne Lille Ligue 1 10032019

One man who does continue to be recognised by his country while starring in French football is Lille striker Nicolas Pepe.

Drogba is delighted to see a fellow Ivorian showing his worth, with a highly-rated 23-year-old generating talk of interest from the likes of Arsenal.

“He has very good statistics and will easily exceed my record of goals in a Ligue 1 season [19 in 2003-04],” added Drogba.

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“He is a fast, complete, very efficient player. We need players like him in Ligue 1.

“I had already been aware of him for some time, especially because he has been summoned to Ivorian selection for several years. This season he is performing at a very high level.”

Pepe has recorded 17 goals in 30 appearances this season to register on the transfer radar of leading sides across Europe.