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Nice fans have accused Mario Balotelli of betraying them after he failed to attend the beginning of preseason training. 

Balotelli was absent when his Nice teammates started preseason preparations under new coach Patrick Vieira on Monday amid speculation about his future, with Marseille strongly linked with the striker.

His 33 goals in 51 Ligue 1 matches in his two campaigns in Ligue 1 have helped earn him a recall to the Italy squad and raised his profile again, leaving Nice supporters unhappy with his behaviour towards their club now.

“First of all, we want to remind Mario that the Nicois welcomed him to Nice as a child of the city and the club, that he has been loved, hailed and supported like nowhere else and without doubt more than ever since the start of his career,” the Populaire Sud Nice ultra group said. “We totally accept that support and are therefore all the more disappointed, and we feel betrayed that he behaves this way towards a club and fans who have respected him and helped relaunch him.

“In conclusion, Mario, when you are summoned for preseason, even if you know that perhaps you won’t stay, you turn up on time and say goodbye politely. Instead of stealing away like a thief in the night. You have got it all wrong, Mario.”

There is confusion over Balotelli’s status with Nice, as his agent, Mino Raiola, last season suggested the he would leave on a free transfer this summer, but this statement rejected by Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere.

Ian is ESPN’s French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman

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