With new owners following a late-summer takeover, OGC Nice signed no fewer than five new players in the days of the transfer window. Check out how the prospects are for Patrick Vieira's revamped squad…
"The project at this club is more than promising."
OGC Nice's last-minute recruits have all been singing the same tune after the club was bought by the petrochemical group INEOS, who immediately brought back directors Jean-Pierre Rivère (President) and Julien Fournier (Football Director). At the very end of the transfer window, Le Gym clinched the signatures of five high-potential players, whereas before that, the club had only recruited Khephren Thuram, back in early June. A real change of direction for Les Aiglons.
"Thanks to our new owner," said president Jen-Pierre Rivère, who was ousted back in January before making a sensational return in late August, "we have the opportunity to approach such players and close deals to bring them to the club."
At the top of the list for this recruitment: Kasper Dolberg. The 21-year-old Danish international (13 caps, three goals) has already amassed plenty of experience with Ajax Amsterdam, playing 78 league matches (33 goals) and 31 European matches, including a superb UEFA Europa League campaign in the 2016-17 season. Before losing in the final against Manchester United, Dolberg scored six goals in 13 games, including two against Olympique Lyonnais in the semi-finals.
"He is a very good player, who can play alone in front, technically easy," said Dolberg's new boss Patrick Vieira during the Dane's presentation to the media.
In addition to Dolberg, Le Gym also recruited two other attacking elements. Former Bordeaux man Adam Ounas has signed up on loan, with an option to buy, from Napoli. The versatile winger, who won the last African Cup of Nations with Algeria, will try to regain a more consistent playing time under Patrick Vieira (25 appearances in two seasons in Serie A).
"Adam is a player who knows how to do everything. This is really the profile we were looking for: a player who can make the players around him better. He can score the goals himself but also provide the final pass," explained the Nice boss. "Adam is very talented and needs to express it, to play. There is everything we need here to show him at the international level how good a player he is."
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Vieira was also full of praise for attacking midfielder Alexis Claude-Maurice, one of the players in Domino's Ligue 2 last season with 14 goals and four assists for FC Lorient.
"He can shoot, get past his man, play between the lines and score between ten and 15 goals in a season," said Vieira of the 21-year-old. "He has really embraced the project and our philosophy. It's a big deal for us and for the squad."
A step further down the field, Hichem , 19, has also settled on the Côte d'Azur. Arriving from Paradou AC in Algiers, a club where Youcef Atal played, he also won the CAN with Algeria in July. A native of Bashir, he is described as "hyperactive, technical, valuable in recovery and capable of breaking lines" on the club's official website.
Nsoki: 'At the service of the collective'
Finally, to strengthen the rear-guard, Patrick Vieira can count on the arrival of Stanley Nsoki, who arrives from Paris Saint-Germain. A player capable of playing at left-back or in the centre of defence.
"If it were just about my preferences, I'd say I'd rather play as a central defender," said the 20-year-old, who made 13 Ligue 1 Conforama appearances for the capital club. "But I am at Nice, and I am at the service of the collective. Be it in the middle, on the left or further up the pitch, I will try to repay the faith shown in me by turning in successful performances."
It has been a whirlwind recruitment of promising players made by Nice since the club's takeover August 26, and it could totally change the course of the season for Les Aiglons - who already sit in third place with nine points from four outings.