Juventus chief executive Giuseppe "Beppe" Marotta has denied rumours the Bianconeri are interested in signing Nice striker Mario Balotelli, who will be available on a free transfer in the summer.
Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola, brought attention to the fact his client is set to become a free agent, telling Rai (h/t AS) he believes he's worth €100 million and he's engaged in talks with several clubs, including Juventus.
Marotta denied that during an interview with Mediaset Premium (h/t Goal's Dejan Kalinic), however.
While he praised the forward, he emphasised the Old Lady are not currently following him: "Balotelli? It's great to watch him play, he's a great player, but we aren't following him at this moment. I repeat, he's an important player and he could be useful to the national team in the near future."
Balotelli has rediscovered his goalscoring form since moving to Nice, hitting double-digit goals in back-to-back seasons. He hadn't done so since his days with Milan.
The former Liverpool and Manchester City man found a great home in France at a club that is quickly gaining a reputation for salvaging the careers of troubled forwards. Before the Italy international, Hatem Ben Arfa rejuvenated his game there after a failed spell in the Premier League and eventually earned a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Balotelli's improved form has seen him enter the national-team picture again, and in his quest to join the Azzurri, he has found an ally who could help him earn a move to Turin as well:
A transfer to Juventus seems highly unlikely, though. Balotelli has long had a poor relationship with the Bianconeri, dating back to his time with Inter Milan.
Per the Guardian's David Conn, Juventus fans abused the striker often with racist taunts, to the point where the club had to ask the supporters to stop doing so.
The bad blood lingered for years, and he still isn't a popular figure around Turin.
Juventus do have a great reputation for finding value in unlikely places―the transfers of Andrea Barzagli and Carlos Tevez come to mind―and this summer could be the perfect time to invest in Balotelli. He's still a tremendous talent capable of incredible things:
The Bianconeri have the type of veteran dressing room that may just be capable of keeping Balotelli in check―the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Barzagli always seemed to have a positive impact on the striker when they played together for the national team.
Adding Balotelli is a risk Juventus may not be willing to take, though, given how successful they've been in recent years. But the Allianz Stadium could well be the best destination out there for the forward and a fantastic move as he continues to rebuild his career.