Agence France-Presse

Mario Balotelli has finally begun preseason training with Nice over two weeks later than the rest of Patrick Vieira’s squad.

Balotelli was an unexplained absence when Vieira took charge of his first training session with the Ligue 1 club at the start of July.

Amid media speculation that Balotelli was set to end his two-season stint with Nice and join rivals Marseille, the Italy forward had kept himself out of the spotlight.

However, he returned on Tuesday afternoon for an individual session — though not at Nice’s new training centre with the rest of the squad. Instead, the former Manchester City and Liverpool striker was put through his paces on the pitch and in the gym at the club’s old training facility.

Balotelli’s return adds weight to L’Equipe’s claim that negotiations between Marseille and Nice, who are demanding €10 million, are at a standstill.

It also goes some way to clarifying whether Balotelli remains under contract with Nice, with some reports claiming he was a free agent and others saying he still has a year to run on his deal.

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