OGC Nice are about to embark on a spending spree, following the completion of the INEOS takeover, putting the supporters in optimistic mood ahead of Wednesday's home "southern derby" with Olympique de Marseille.
OGC Nice - Olympique de Marseille
INEOS, owned by Britain's richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, confirmed the takeover on Monday with the timing opportune given the transfer window shuts on September 2.
"We are absolutely delighted about acquiring OGC Nice," Ratcliffe said. "It has been quite a long journey getting here, but it is unique, and we were determined to complete the purchase of the club. We have looked at a lot of clubs in the manner we look at businesses in INEOS - for value and potential - and Nice fulfils that criteria.
"With some sensible, measured investment, we want to establish OGC Nice as a team that competes in European club competition on a regular basis. And importantly, sustain it. OGC Nice has a great history and tradition, with a passionate fan-base, whom will play an important role in our journey. It’s tough to improve on the location on the Med and over the last 20 years we have established roots in this beautiful area.”
Transfer deals in the offing... for Nice
Fans of Les Aiglons will have to wait until Sunday's game at Rennes to see any potential INEOS-funded recruits in action and coach Patrick Vieira will look forward to welcoming reinforcements given the lack of summer transfer activity as only young Khephren Thuram was signed, joining from neighbours Monaco.
Over the next few days the primary focus for Nice will be to bolster Vieira's attacking options, a problem area for a club that scored only 30 Ligue 1 Conforama goals last season and sold six-goal joint-top scorer Allan Saint-Maximin to Newcastle United in the close season.
Nice have started the campaign in style, beating both Amiens and Nîmes by the same 2-1 scoreline. For the OM match Vieira welcomes back goalkeeper Walter Benitez - who kept more clean sheets than anybody else in the division last season - as the Argentinian has recovered from a thigh injury. With Racine Coly banned following his red card against Nîmes and Malang Sarr injured, Andy Pelmard is poised to feature at left-back.
Villas-Boas: "We have no money"
The mood at OM is downbeat with André Villas-Boas still searching for his first win as coach and the club lacking the funds to remould a struggling squad. The Portuguese would have preferred this game to have come around quicker following the 0-0 against Nantes on August 17 and the fact the clash was pushed back because of the G7 summit in Biarritz led the former Porto coach to organise a practice game against the club's Under-19s last Friday.
Villas-Boas said: "Nice are well organised and well coached by Patrick. I want a win and to see the team progress, that's the most important thing for me. We have no recruits and no options, we're not looking for anybody and you can stop all conversations involving the mercato because we have no money. The only possible deals are loans."
World Cup winner Florian Thauvin could return to the OM squad following the ankle injury sustained in the heavy defeat to Rangers in Glasgow on July 14.
Nice: Benitez; Burner, Herelle, Dante, Pelmard; Tameze, Cyprien, Lees-Melou; Ganago, Le Bihan, Sacko
Olympique de Marseille: Mandanda; Sakai, Kamara, Alvaro, Amavi; Sanson, Luiz Gustavo, Sanson; Sarr, Benedetto, Payet