Mario Balotelli helped Nice finish third last season.

Mario Balotelli could leave Nice in the summer if they do not qualify for European football next season, club president Jean-Pierre Rivere has said.

Balotelli joined from Liverpool last year and signed a contract for a further year after helping Nice finish third in 2016-17.

Although they lost to Napoli in a Champions League playoff this season, they remain in the Europa League but are 12 points adrift of the top four Ligue 1 spots that guarantee European football.

Rivere told RMC the size of Balotelli’s salary meant Nice needed to maintain a revenue stream supported by European competition.

“Balotelli is a very nice guy, and he’s incredible on the pitch. He’s changing his style of play, I think he’s improving,” he said.

“But will he want to stay next season? Perhaps. Can we keep him? I don’t know. That will depend on results. When you sign Balotelli, it’s because you know you have European competition, therefore extra revenue.

“I’m not revealing anything when I say Mario has a certain level of salary. If we’re not in Europe, it’s not the same level of salary.

“Perhaps, in that case, he’ll leave. We have to make sure things are safe.”

Ian is ESPN’s French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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