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Kluivert, Stengs, Rosario... OGC Nice's Dutch touch

Publish on 13/01/2022 at 02:30

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Three Dutchmen in one go: arriving this summer at OGC Nice, Justin Kluivert, Calvin Stengs and Pablo Rosario are each assimilating into Ligue 1 Uber Eats at their own pace and aiming to take their game to the next level in the second half of the season.

At Nice, famous Italian-Dutch agent Mino Raiola was already managing the careers of Khéphren Thuram and goalkeeper Walter Benitez. And this summer, Raiola has established himself a little more firmly on the Côte d'Azur by installing a trio of Dutch internationals at Les Aiglons. Justin Kluivert was probably the best known of the three for his stints at AS Roma and RB Leipzig - and for his famous father Patrick. Like Calvin Stengs, he also shone in the spring in the quarter-final of the U21 Euros against Amine Gouiri's Bleuets.

Rosario hits the ground running

But the most successful player since the start of the Nice season has been midfielder Rosario, who is little known in France but who arrived with a solid background of four seasons and more than 130 games with PSV Eindhoven, where he was captain.

"Pablo is the one who has played the most. His integration was very quick," said Nice coach Christophe Galtier. "He is very promising and I am very happy with his first part of the season, even though he had a little break."

Rosario, 25, has formed an effective and complementary partnership with Mario Lemina, who is now away with the Gabonese squad for the African Cup of Nations. They both arrived at the club in the summer and were put up at the same hotel, so have spent plenty of time together.

"I feel like I've been with family ever since I arrived," said Rosario, who has played 19 Ligue 1 games, including 16 starts.

Kluivert on track

Justin Kluivert, for his part, is close to Kasper Dolberg, with whom he played at boyhood club Ajax Amsterdam. The 22-year-old winger, who is only on loan from AS Roma, has been hampered by injuries, but his statistical record is decent, with two goals and three assists in 11 league appearances.

"Justin was out for two months with muscle damage," explained Galtier. "He's a sprinter, so he's prone to this kind of injury."

"He had played little in the previous seasons at Roma and Leipzig. He had to take on a new workload while discovering L1 among other things. He was satisfactory in December. I hope that he will make further progress and that he will bring real added value to our game."

Tougher times for Calvin Stengs

But it is above all from Calvin Stengs that the Côte d'Azur coach expects more. The 23-year-old striker, who arrived from AZ Alkmaar, has scored just one goal in 13 games and has just been hit by a COVID infection.

In front of the press, Stengs himself regretted that he had not yet shown his true colours.

"My role is to help the team, to become important with goals and assists," he said, before Galtier admitted that Stengs's integration has been 'more difficult'.

"This is often the case with his kind of play," said the Aiglons boss. "The principles are different, the expectations too. If only because of his transfer, which is a big one for a club like ours. I ask him to be more free, more relaxed. To play without fear of missing out, as he did so well at his former club. He is a player with great vision."