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Roberto Mancini: 'Mario Balotelli can still become world class'

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini says that Nice striker Mario Balotelli still has the potential to become "world class".

Roberto Mancini has suggested that Mario Balotelli can still take his performances to "a different level".

Since bursting onto the scene with Inter Milan, Balotelli has struggled to settle at a number of clubs, but he has scored 12 goals in 22 appearances for Nice during the current campaign.

Mancini was responsible for taking Balotelli to Manchester City in 2010 but despite the forward failing to build on that transfer, his former boss still has high hopes for the remainder of his career.

The 52-year-old told Soccer Laduma: "Balotelli has great technical quality. He must understand that he has the potential to be world class. He is fantastic as a player and as a person – for better or for worse. He is a special player for me for all that he has done on the field, and even off it. I respect him a lot.

"I just hope he understands that he has the possibility to become a great player on a different level. I gave him his Serie A debut at 16 – I like to play the youngsters.

"Mario came across a coach who had the courage to let the youngsters play, but anyone would have seen his qualities, and how he is a cold blooded player. He was very impressionable – I was certain he would become world class."

The 26-year-old has also scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for Italy during his career.

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A close-up shot of new Liverpool signing Mario Balotelli at the Etihad on August 25, 2014
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