Mario Balotelli Joins Brescia on Free Transfer After Leaving Marseille

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIAugust 18, 2019

Marseille's Italian forward Mario Balotelli controls the ball as he warms up prior to the French Ligue 1 football match between Bordeaux (FCGB) and Marseille (OM) on April 5, 2019 at the Matmut Atlantique stadium in Bordeaux, southwestern France. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Striker Mario Balotelli has joined his hometown club Brescia on a free transfer after leaving Ligue 1 side Marseille in July:

B/R Football @brfootball

OFFICIAL: @FinallyMario signs for his home club Brescia The latest step in his footballing journey 🇮🇹 https://t.co/OdQ72aawRJ

The Italian has signed a "multi-year contract" with the club, according to an official statement (h/t Football Italia).

"Mario Balotelli Barwuah is officially a new player of Brescia Calcio S.p.A. The footballer has signed a multi-year contract with the Rondinelle. The return to Italy, after three years, was made possible by Mario’s determination and enthusiasm to return to Brescia, the city where he grew up and where since he was a child he stood out for his physical and technical skills."

The striker will be officially presented as a new Brescia player on Monday. The club were promoted back to Serie A in May after eight seasons in the second division.

Football writer Kaustubh Pandey noted how the transfer would impact Brescia:

Kaustubh Pandey @Kaus_Pandey17

While Mario #Balotelli going back home to Brescia isn't just move that makes you romanticise about the game. Because of this, people who don't follow Serie A will know about #Brescia. This move puts the club on the map for those fans. And it is brilliant news.

The move means Balotelli returns to the Italian top flight after an absence of three years. His last appearance in the league came while on loan at AC Milan from Liverpool.

ESPN's Matteo Bonetti is looking forward to watching him alongside starlet Sandro Tonali and top scorer Alfredo Donnarumma:

Matteo Bonetti @TheCalcioGuy

Mario Balotelli has made his Serie A return with his hometown club Brescia. This is one of those career mode signings you would’ve made in a video game. Between Balotelli, Sandro Tonali and the former Serie B capocannoniere Alfredo Donnarumma, Brescia an interesting watch.

Balotelli has since spent time in France's top division. He joined Nice on a free transfer and racked up 43 goals in 66 games in his first two seasons with the club.

However, he was released from his contract with the club early and went on to join Marseille in January 2019. Balotelli scored eight goals in 15 appearances but left when his contract expired at the end of the season:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Mario Balotelli: Scored just 8 goals in Ligue 1 last season, all of which were netted in the second half of the season; Only 5 players scored more in that period For more player stats -- https://t.co/nS8hane5vk https://t.co/Q0yIyBxB6k

His performances during his time in the French top flight suggest he still has plenty to offer, and he also has bags of Serie A experience to offer his new club.

Balotelli has previously played for Inter and AC Milan in Serie A. He has also spent time in the Premier League with both Liverpool and Manchester City during his career.

The striker had been linked with a move to Flamengo. He entered negotiations with the club, but a move collapsed when the Brazilian side pulled out of the deal, per Goal

Balotelli is known as much for his football as for his off-field antics. The striker has packed plenty of controversial moments into a colourful career, as shown by Sky Sports:

There is no doubting Balotelli's quality on the pitch and that he is an exciting signing for Brescia on their return to the top flight.

However, fans will have to wait to see him make his debut, as he was hit with a four-match ban after being sent off for Marseille against Montpellier in May, according to Football Italia. His debut could come at the end of September against defending champions Juventus.