Transfer roundup: Mario Balotelli joins Marseille on free transfer from Nice

  • 28-year-old arrives on six-month contract
  • Reading loan Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martínez

Mario Balotelli has joined Marseille on a six-month contract after leaving Nice, the French club have announced.

The 28-year-old has yet to score a league goal this season after netting 33 from 51 Ligue 1 games in his two previous seasons at Nice.

“When this happens, the striker is responsible for the situation but sometimes there are external factors,” Balotelli told a press conference. “I was supposed to leave at the beginning of the season, then I didn’t leave … but I will make up for it.”

Asked what his ambitions were, he joked: “My ambition is to finish this news conference, go to training and see if I can play on Friday.”

The Marseille coach, Rudi Garcia, said Balotelli would be a substitute at best for Friday’s match against second-placed Lille.

“He hasn’t played or trained for a month, it is impossible to see him start on Friday,” Garcia told reporters. “We will have to wait to see how long it takes him to be at 100%.”

Marseille will be the seventh club of the Italian forward’s career. After making his first-team debut with Lumanezze at the age of 15, he moved to Internazionale before a memorable spell with Manchester City.

Balotelli won the Premier League and FA Cup with City but left for Milan in 2013 after repeatedly falling out with his manager, Roberto Mancini. He returned to England with Liverpool in 2016 but scored just one goal in a dismal season at Anfield.

After a loan spell back at Milan, Balotelli rediscovered his scoring touch at Nice. He signed a new one-year contract in summer but had fallen out of favour under the club’s new manager, Patrick Vieira.

Martínez joins Royals on loan

Reading have completed a loan move for Arsenal goalkeeper Emi Martínez. The Argentinian will join former club-mate Vito Mannone at the Madejski Stadium.

Martínez is the latest loan signing secured by the manager, José Gomes, as the club bid to avoid relegation to League One. Chelsea’s Lewis Baker, Liverpool’s Ovie Ejaria and Norwich forward Nélson Oliveira have also arrived this month.