Nice manager Patrick Vieira has hit out at Mario Balotelli after the Italian marksman failed to find the back of the net in the club’s 1-0 win against Nimes on Saturday.

The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker is yet to find the back of the net or provide an assist this season as Nice sit sixth in Ligue 1.

He was taken off with just 15 minutes to spare in the match at the Stade des Costieres over the weekend and after the match, Vieira called into question the forward’s lacklustre performance.

The Eaglets had a two-man numerical advantage as the hosts were reduced to nine men in the first half, with Faitout Maouassa and Loick Landre both being sent off, though it took Vieira’s side 61 minutes to break the deadlock.

Balotelli had just 27 touches before he was substituted off – the least of any Nice player, and second-least of any player on the pitch – while he had just two shots on target, and Vieira was less than impressed.

“It’s been a tough and complicated match for Nice, we’ve suffered a lot, it’s been less than an average match,” he told reporters (via Goal). “We take the three points, but we come home with the feeling that there is still a lot of work to be done. In the future, we will have to produce better displays than tonight to continue our progress.

“We didn’t put enough pressure on our opponent. Just like Mario Balotelli, we were less than average.”

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Balotelli was noticeably despondent following his manager’s decision to take him off, but Vieira has backed his own judgement, calling on the striker to work harder for the team.

“It’s good that he is angry because he does not want to come off,” he said. “His goal may be at the next game, but what’s important is how he worked for the goal. I’m not worried about that side of things, what worries me is the team and how he continues to work for the team.”

Balotelli’s Nice career

Following a disastrous spell with Liverpool, which Balotelli called the ‘worst mistake of his life,’ he signed a one-year contract with Nice in 2016.

His maiden campaign would see him net 17 goals in 28 appearances across all competitions, though it was last season that really turned heads as the 28-year-old netted 26 goals across 38 matches.

He formed a formidable attacking partnership with Alassane Plea and was reinstated back into the Italian fold, but following Plea’s departure to Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer, Balotelli’s form has significantly dipped, and he has failed to find the back of the net this season.

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