Marseille coach Rudy Garcia has said the club should sign Mario Balotelli as they target a place in the Champions League.
Balotelli will leave Nice this summer and is expected to return to Italy, but Garcia hopes Marseille could convince him to stay in France.
“I’ve followed him closely and he’s one of Italy’s best players,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He’s done great in France and never had any behavioural problems, and his teammates appreciated him.
“If Marseille want to strengthen, we need to be looking to sign such strong players.”
His comments were echoed by Marseille and France defender Adil Rami, who told a news conference that Balotelli was “bursting with talent, technically and physically,” and urged him: “Come and join us — we’ll win together.”
Garcia, meanwhile, said he believed French football could soon catch up with the game in Italy.
Serie A has regained third position in UEFA’s association club coefficients, with the top four nations in the standings obtaining four group stage places in the Champions League. France, in fifth, has two group stage spots, with a third team going into the qualifiers.
Although Europa League finalists Marseille missed out on a place, finishing fourth, Garcia said the future was looking bright.
“Certainly our bosses are doing a great job if it’s true that we’ve sold our television rights for nearly €1.2 billion,” he said. “You [in Italy] spend all your time arguing and you can see that in your politics, can’t you?
“The important thing is for us to get four teams in the Champions League. Marseille are the club with most fans in France, but we didn’t quite make it, despite playing the Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.
“But with PSG, we’re practically all playing for second, although that’s a bit like what has happened in Italy in recent years with Juve.”
PSG are set to sign goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on a two-year deal after his departure from Juventus, and Garcia expects that move to give them even more of an edge.
“You’ll see how happy he will be at PSG,” he said. “He’s a great signing. Gigi, other than being an outstanding goalkeeper is an outstanding person.
“In fact, I would make an exception for him and say that I also hope he returns to play for Italy.”
Information from ESPN FC’s France correspondent Mark Rodden was used in this report.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.