Balotelli not leaving Nice in January

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Balotelli will not be moving in the winter transfer window.

Mario Balotelli will not be leaving Nice in January, according to club president Jean-Pierre Riviere.

The 27-year-old, who has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season, revealed in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport that he is keen to showcase his talents in the Champions League.

Balotelli said he is happy at Nice but told the Italian newspaper: “Admittedly, I would like to get back to having a strong squad behind me.

“I want to play in the Champions League and win something. The aim is to go back to a big club. To win something important again.”

But the former Manchester City striker, who claims his time at the Etihad was “the best year of my life”, will not be leaving France in this transfer window.

Riviere told Nice-Matin newspaper: “It is impossible. You know how important he is, it is unimaginable.

“Thanks to his performances, he has rediscovered a certain value on the market with another 1.5 years of his contract remaining… That is not what interests us for Mario, but instead that he continues to take the team higher.

“It is a wonderful story with him.”

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Arsenal and Liverpool target Thomas Lemar is not for sale in January, confirms Monaco chief

Alex Broun 27/12/2017
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Star performer for Monaco: Lemar.

Monaco vice-president and CEO Vadim Vasilyev has dashed the hopes of Arsenal and Liverpool fans, at least temporarily, by confirming that star midfielder Thomas Lemar will not be sold during the January transfer window.

Vasilyev, who has overseen the development and sale of talent such as Anthony Martial (to Manchester United) and Kylian Mbappe (to Paris Saint-Germain), said that Lemar would definitely be held on until at least mid-2018.

“Thomas Lemar will definitely stay until the end of the season”, he said. “We are going for second place (behind Paris Saint-Germain). The competition is very tough with Lyon and Marseille and we need the team to stay competitive.”

However, the 52-year-old did concede that Lemar would eventually leave the club.

“It is difficult to keep them (star players)” he said, “of course Monaco is a great club and it’s an historic club in France (with) amazing success but we cannot compare ourselves with the likes of Real Madrid or (the) Manchesters, United or City. We are not in the same league.”

“So we understand that at a certain stage, the players want – once they get offers – to play at big clubs, they want to play in front of big clubs and we have to let them go at the right time.”

“(But) When is the right time? This is the tricky point.”

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Athletic Bilbao deny reports of Real Madrid approaching goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

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Athletic Bilbao have not received any approach from Real Madrid for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, according to president Josu Urrutia.

The 23-year-old has been linked with a move to the LaLiga champions when his Bilbao contract expires at the end of the season.

But Urrutia insists Real have not contacted the club about the possibility of signing the Spain international.

“There has not been any approach of any kind, we know that there have been rumours but we have no confirmation either from the representatives of the player or Real Madrid,” Urrutia was quoted as saying on Bilbao’s official Twitter account.

“Athletic is not a seller club, for the departure of a player the player must want to leave and has to pay the clause.

“We keep talking and there is no closed door, I don’t know if what is said is true. When you’ve been talking to people who represent a player for 15 years, you have to believe in the good intentions of the people and that the player wants to stay here.

“We have no proof that any team has been negotiating with @kepa_46.

“There is a lot of people who have renewed many times because they understand that it is their home and want to take this further. It is the answer we are looking for.”

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