EPL

Balotelli will succeed at Brescia, says De Jong

By Sports Desk September 12, 2019

Mario Balotelli is "very happy" being back in Brescia and can be a real success for his hometown club, according to former team-mate Nigel de Jong.

The enigmatic former Inter, Manchester City and Nice striker returned to Italy in August, signing a multi-year deal with the newly-promoted Serie A side.

Balotelli, 29, spent much of his childhood in the Brescia region and revealed his mother cried when she found out he was signing for the Lombardy outfit.

De Jong played alongside Balotelli at City and AC Milan, and he expects the move home to bring the best out of his friend.

"Of course [he can succeed], he's back in his home town Brescia with his family around him," the former Netherlands international said after Vincent Kompany's testimonial match, which Balotelli attended as a spectator.

"I know him very well, we speak quite often, and he's happy.

"For me, it's important for Mario to be in an environment he's happy with and [where] he's back with his family.

"I think he needs two more weeks before he's really fit and he can play his first game.

"Mario's Mario – the qualities will always be there. We just hope that he can pick up where he left off [in France] and show his qualities for Brescia because they're going to need it this year.

"He is very happy. So we'll see."

De Jong and Balotelli were part of the City outfit which won the Premier League in famous fashion in 2011-12.

Pipping rivals Manchester United paved the way for a sustained period of success, during which the so-called 'noisy neighbours' have secured a further three league titles.

The hard-nosed midfield anchor of Roberto Mancini's side believes the Etihad Stadium has become an attractive destination in the eyes of top players for more reasons than money.

"There are more players coming in and it's due to the fact people will choose Manchester City now over other teams," De Jong said.

"City, back in the day, you had to come in and say, 'Listen, here's the contract, here's the big money, come play for us', instead of watching the whole culture.

"Now [some players would] rather choose Manchester City over Barcelona or Madrid. That is a change, a momentum shift.

"United as well. I think a player would rather choose City at this moment than the other side of town.

"It is what it is, that's football. It shifts. We'll see how it goes."

Related items

  • Mourinho hails Pochettino: Spurs will always be Mauricio's home Mourinho hails Pochettino: Spurs will always be Mauricio's home

    Mauricio Pochettino will always be welcome at Tottenham, according to his successor Jose Mourinho.

    Pochettino was sacked after five-and-a-half years at the helm on Tuesday, with last season's Champions League finalists moving quickly to appoint former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss Mourinho as head coach.

    The 56-year-old faced his first news conference in charge of Spurs on Thursday and began by speaking warmly of Pochettino, who remains widely revered by the club's fanbase despite a dismal start to the current campaign that leaves them languishing 14th in the Premier League.

    "I’ve been smiling for two days [but] first of all I do it with a bit of sadness [because] I have to speak about Mauricio," Mourinho said.

    "I have to congratulate him on the incredible job he did. I share with you what we shared inside.

    "This club will always be his home; this training ground is his training ground. He is always welcome here.

    "Tomorrow is another day. He will find happiness soon. He will give everything like he did at this club. He will leave with sadness, with the feeling that he did great work. It is what everyone at the club felt."

    A turbulent week has meant a quick turnaround for Mourinho, who will lead Spurs for the first time at West Ham on Saturday.

    He has been out of management for almost a year after being sacked by Manchester United last December but insists he is ready for the challenge.

    "I had a feeling I was going to get a club mid-season," he said. "I knew I would be in a situation where I would get only one or two days before my first game.

    "I cannot come here and think it is about myself. It is about the players and going from a base of stability.

    "I thought about it during these months because I thought I might get a job mid-season and I might have a game two days later.

    "We have our own ways but they were in the hands of a good manager and coaching staff here."

    Club record signing Tanguy Ndombele and centre-back Jan Vertonghen face fitness tests on respective groin and hamstring complaints, while Mourinho will be without winger Erik Lamela (hamstring) and goalkeeping duo Michel Vorm (calf) and Hugo Lloris (elbow) at London Stadium.

  • Neymar set for PSG comeback as illness hits Mbappe Neymar set for PSG comeback as illness hits Mbappe

    Neymar is ready to return to action for Paris Saint-Germain against Lille on Saturday, but the Ligue 1 champions could be without Kylian Mbappe.

    The Brazil superstar has not featured for his club since sustaining a hamstring injury during the October international break, continuing a tale of fitness woe that has stained his time at the Parc des Princes.

    Speaking at a pre-match news conference, head coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed Neymar would be available for a mouth-watering week of fixtures, with trips to Real Madrid and Monaco coming after Lille's visit to the French capital.

    "Neymar feels good," Tuchel said. "He has trained well and will be in the group for tomorrow's match, but he will not be able to play 90 minutes.

    "He will bring us quality and decisive things. When he is with us, we are super dangerous. That is necessary if we want to continue to win

    "Lille, Real Madrid and Monaco represent three challenging games for us."

    Mbappe has often stepped up in Neymar's absence, but the France forward has been laid low by illness having already suffered hamstring, thigh and groin setbacks this term.

    "He had a fever, he has to start training today, we have to wait," said Tuchel, who will be without midfield duo Marco Verratti (knee) and Ander Herrera (thigh).

    Neymar's rehabilitation took in a trip to watch the Davis Cup in Madrid this week, something which neither delighted nor angered his boss.

    "What can I do? I'm not his father, nor the police. I am just his coach," Tuchel added.

    "He trained well. Did I enjoy his trip to Madrid? No. But he was very professional during those two weeks.

    "He did more than others, working with the group and also individually. If all goes well, he can play [against Lille]. Tomorrow we will decide".

  • Arsenal without Ceballos until mid-December Arsenal without Ceballos until mid-December

    Arsenal midfielder Dani Ceballos is facing another month on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.

    The Spain playmaker sustained the problem during the 1-1 Europa League draw at Vitoria SC at the start of this month.

    Head coach Unai Emery initially referred to that setback as a "small injury" but, in a short injury update posted on their official website ahead of Saturday's Premier League home match against Southampton, Arsenal confirmed damage to Ceballos' left hamstring means he is aiming to return to full training in mid-December.

    The 23-year-old has made 17 appearances in all competitions since moving to Emirates Stadium on a season-long loan from Real Madrid

    Emery will assess Sead Kolasinac before the Southampton game after the left-back returned to club duty with a tight left hamstring.

    Bosnia-Herzegovina international Kolasinac completed 90 minutes of his country's 3-0 defeat to Italy last Friday but sat out the subsequent win over Liechtenstein by the same scoreline.

    Emery finds himself under pressure following a run of four winless matches in the Premier League.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.