Cyprien return a big boost for Nice
The sight of Wylan Cyprien back in the starting line-up in recent weeks has been a big boost to OGC Nice after the midfielder's long absence with a serious knee injury.
Cyprien made his first start in 10 months in Nice's derby draw at AS Monaco on January 16. Five days later it was his free-kick that gave Lucien Favre's side all three points against AS Saint-Etienne.
"I haven't lost the knack. I just needed to get myself fit and I knew I could start scoring goals like that again. But seriously, I love free-kicks, this one was a bit to the right too, I hit it well," Cyprien told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports.
That trademark free-kick goal reminded Nice, and France as a whole, exactly what they'd been missing during the 10 months he spent nursing a cruciate ligament injury.
Cyprien had scored eight goals in 29 league games last season before suffering the injury against Caen, a huge blow for a Nice side who were still in title contention at the time. No wonder the Côte d'Azur club were counting down the days until his return.
"He's like a new signing for us. He's a vital part of our team. Unfortunately he's been out for a while. We won't rush him, but he'll do us the world of good," said Jean-Pierre Rivère, the Nice president.
Watch: Cyprien scores against Saint-Etienne
An energetic central midfielder with a rifle of a shot, Cyprien's absence was certainly felt in the first half of the season. Coach Favre is as happy as anyone to have his Paris-born star back after the career-threatening injury.
"It's great. When you think about all he's been through, he's worked so hard and now he's coming back very well," said the Swiss.
Swiss army knife
Cyprien added: "I'd never wish that on a fellow player. It's a really difficult time and it's hard to describe. The past eight months have been incredibly tough, I've worked unbelievably hard, and with the help of those around me, that work's now bearing fruit."
The 23-year-old Cyprien stands out in a deep-lying midfield role thanks to his pressing, quick feet, and precise range of passing. Add to that both pace and a will to get forward, and Favre has himself his very own Swiss army knife.
"He's likes to get forward, we've played him as a number eight and a number 10, and even out wide at the end of games last season," Favre said.
With the serious injury behind him, the former RC Lens man is hoping he can build on a hugely impressive debut season at Nice, even if an adductor injury is likely to keep him out for another couple of weeks.
"It's all behind me now, I can focus on the future and doing what I do best, which is playing football," he said.