Mario Balotelli has been backed to become Vasco da Gama's "Diego Maradona" amid reports he is close to joining the Brazilian club.
Balotelli is currently a free agent after his contract with Serie A side Brescia was terminated, and has been strongly linked with a move to Vasco in recent weeks.
Fabio Cordella, who is hoping to become Vasco's new president in the upcoming elections, has revealed that negotiations are close to being concluded for the former Inter Milan and AC Milan star, who could now be set to join the Brazilian outfit in January.
"He'd like to come to Vasco," Cordella told Corriere dello Sport. "Don't forget, Vasco are the club with the second-most trophies in the world after Real Madrid [sic].
"I don't think Mario needs to come to Rio to do stupid things, I think he has reached mental maturity. Vasco is an institution against racism. I hope he can wait for us. Officially, we cannot sign anyone, but there have been messages and offers.
"We agree on everything, we just have to formalise. I hope we can do it on January 15, Vasco need a player like Balotelli and he needs a club like Vasco. For our fans, he would be like Maradona."
Scroll through the gallery below for some images of Balotelli at various stages of his career