El-Hadji Diouf: Steven Gerrard's 'jealousy' the reason why Mario Balotelli struggled at Liverpool

The former Liverpool striker says he isn't surprised by the Italian's fast start in Ligue 1

Mario Balotelli

Image: Martin Rickett / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mario Balotelli began life after Liverpool with a brace for his new club Nice in Ligue 1 and another former Reds striker says he is not surprised by the Italian's fast start in France.

El-Hadji Diouf says that Balotelli's qualities with the Premier League side were stifled because of the jealousy of former captain, Steven Gerrard.

"I told him not to go to Liverpool," he told L'Equipe. "It wasn't made for him, that things couldn't go well with Gerrard, who has never had his talent and then said negative things about him.

"Gerrard is a jealous man who doesn't like men of character. Mario is a good person that you should listen to. He's not a guy who's going to cause problems in the dressing room.

"There are a lot of things that have been made up about him. People tell tales about him, but they're often a load of rubbish."

Balotelli scored twice for Nice during their 3-2 victory over Marseille and the Senegalese international explained that the former AC Milan striker has matured as a footballer.

"When he had problems at City, when he wasn't playing, we talked. I told him that [his form] would come back. Of course it was hard for him, because he's very sensitive. People perhaps don't understand that.

"He was young when he arrived in England, you mustn't forget that," he added.