By support

14th May, 2017 | 3:14pm

17 goals in 27 games: Everton in shock bid to sign 26-year-old, available on a free - reports

By Will Butcher

Everton are set to launch a shock move to sign Nice striker Mario Balotelli but face competition from two European sides, according to a report.

French newspaper L’Equipe claim the former Liverpool striker is set to leave Nice just a year after joining the French giants and helping them achieve third in the Ligue 1 table.

Now, CalcioMercato claim Everton are joined by both Marseille and Las Palmas, while Atletico Madrid are also keen but manager Diego Simeone is not interested.

Balotelli, 26, has shone after moving to Nice on a free following a dismal stay at Anfield under former boss Brendan Rodgers, scoring 17 goals in 27 league and cup encounters.

However, with his contract set to expire in about six weeks, the 33-time Italy international could now be looking for a new home – could he find that in Ronald Koeman’s Everton?

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It would be a shock move after Balotelli has flopped in the Premier league with rivals Liverpool, where he scored just four goals in 28 games.

He also has a reputation for ill discipline – and Everton fans could well be wary, despite his obvious quality when on form.

The Toffees are likely to be in the market for a striker to either replace Romelu Lukaku, who is yet to make a decision on his future, or provide top-quality competition to the big Belgian.

Football Insider verdict:

Balotelli has the quality to improve any team – if he decides to turn it on. Now, the former Manchester City, Inter Milan and AC Milan forward looks to have matured somewhat; a world away from setting off fireworks in his bathroom and celebrating with a shirt that stated “why always me?”. Balotelli has remained without incident this season because he is enjoying first-team football, but with Romelu Lukaku, he is unlikely to receive first-team football. Could you big Rom’s replacement? It’s extremely unlikely that Koeman would take a risk with such a high-profile player, it just doesn’t seem his style. However, Lukaku would love nothing more than to put one in the eye of Liverpool after a disastrous stay, and this could be the ideal opportunity. 

In other Everton transfer news, the Toffees are on the brink of completing a £5million deal.

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