Nice

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2019-11-03 16:00 More Reports
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Season Guide
2019/2020

Nice

In


Khephren Thuram (mid) (Monaco), Vincent Marcel (mid) (Troyes, loan end)

Out


Romain Perraud (def) (Brest); Olivier Boscagli (def) (PSV) ; Jean-Victor Makengo (sp)(mid) (Toulouse, loan); Christophe Jallet (sp)(def) (Amiens); Mouez Hassne (gk), Remi Walter (sp)(mid) (both released)

Nice absolutely maximised their resources last season as they finished seventh in Ligue 1 – their fourth-straight Top 10 finish in France’s top flight. The club, however, has been in something of a state of paralysis in recent weeks as a takeover bid is attempted to be finalised, but what this has meant is that much time has been wasted in the transfer window, particularly with regards signing players. Only young Monaco midfielder Khephren Thuram has arrived this summer, yet the squad size has been cut significantly with departures. Those to leave, however, were not apparently in the plans of head coach Patrick Vieira, with Jean-Victor Makengo perhaps the most pertinent of the players to depart the Allianz Riviera. Nice, though, are not in a position in which they can stand still. Offensively, they were very poor last season, reliant on right-back Youcef Atal’s attacking acumen to provide a threat alongside that of Allan Saint-Maximin. Both players continue to be closely linked with a summer move and could easily be out the door by the end of the transfer window. Unless replaced, Nice would be in a desperate state. The midfield should be a sector that is better than last season as Wylan Cyprien regains confidence after a long-term injury and Pierre Lees Melou is back after missing a significant portion of last term. Danilo is the man likely to complete a very solid trio. At the back, meanwhile, Vieira will focus on having solidarity. The basis of his team last year was the triangle between goalkeeper Walter Benitez and centre-backs Dante and Christophe Herelle. There is no evidence to suggest that will change over the coming campaign, though it will place a significant strain on the Brazilian, who will turn 36 in October. It also means the team has precious little margin for error.

Target


Nice will be aiming for the Top 10 again. With the squad in its current state, that will be tough but, with a takeover looming – and presumably investment to follow –, they have the basis for anything up to a Europa League spot.

Season Review
2018/2019

№7: Nice

Nice made the most of their resources to finish seventh in Patrick Vieira’s first season in charge; a fine outcome given the limitations that the former France and Arsenal midfielder had to work with over the course of the campaign. The most striking thing about Nice’s squad is that it was largely without a centre forward. Mario Balotelli started the season at the Allianz Riviera but struggled to gel with the new boss and departed to Marseille in January after failing to find the net at all. Myziane Maolida, meanwhile, spent much of the campaign injured, just like Mickael Le Bihan. There were no other viable options for the centre-forward role. Even on the wings Nice struggle. Allan Saint-Maximin was their most highly rated performer but remains a player who blows hot and cold; hardly someone to build an attack around. Indeed, they finished the season with right-back Youcef Atal their most consistently dangerous performer in the advanced areas. He proved an excellent signing. The cause of the team was not aided by erratic work in the midfield. Wylan Cyprien has yet to reach his best form following serious injury 18 months ago, while Pierre Lees-Melou, a previously strong player, managed only two goals and one assist over 30 games – a thoroughly disappointing return. Vieira played conservatively, which did not help these players. The pragmatic approach of the coach, however, was reflected in excellent defensive numbers, with Dante once again a formidable performer in the heart of a defence that moved between three and four players. Malang Sarr also had the best season of his young career to date, cutting out many of the sloppy errors he has made in the past. Atal aside, perhaps the revelation of the season came in goal, where Walter Benitez started the season as second choice but finished it playing so well he has been touted for a call up to the international side. Indeed, in the eyes of many pundits he was the finest keeper in Ligue 1. Ultimately, a lack of offensive punch hindered Nice drastically. They can surely only get better in that area over the summer, and while Vieira has been linked with other jobs, he seems set to remain at the club. Investment will be needed, however, as they maximised their potential this season, finishing seventh despite scoring only 30 goals – the league’s third-worst tally.


Player of the Season: Youcef Atal

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