Marseille coach Rudi Garcia has said signing Mario Balotelli was never one of his priorities this summer and he got the man he wanted in Kevin Strootman.
The Ligue 1 club made an offer to Nice for Italy forward Balotelli, but it was rejected and they did not make an improved bid with Garcia saying he was happier to invest in signing Roma midfielder Strootman instead.
“These things happen on the transfer market,” he is quoted as saying in Il Messaggero. “I always said that signing a forward was not our priority. We scored 122 goals in 60 games last year. But we did need a midfielder and we’re extremely satisfied we got Strootman.
“He’s definitely a top player in terms of experience and determination and the balance he can give to the team, also in terms of the tactical options he gives his coach. Right from his first game, he proved that his presence is important.”
Both will return to Rome in November as opponents to Lazio in the Europa League — a game Garcia is particularly looking forward to.
“I’m delighted to go back to Rome, where I still have a lot of friends,” he said. “Obviously I’m much closer to the other club and not the one we’re facing in the Europa League.
“I’m still a Giallorossi fan and going back to the Olimpico will be emotional, even if it won’t be the same without the Curva Sud being full of yellow and red colours.