Kylian Mbappé is a big fan and Amine Gouiri has taken heightened competition at Nice in his stride to again be the club’s top scorer. Could the attacker make it into France’s squad for the FIFA World Cup 2022?
Gouiri has scored eight goals and contributed four assists for Les Aiglons this season, backing up the excellent impression he made in his debut campaign at the club following a seven million euro move from Lyon, top scoring with 12 goals in 2020-2021. The sky is the limit for the 21-year-old born in Bourgoin, who came up through Lyon’s famed youth system before making 15 first-team appearances without netting a goal.
Mbappé: "Gouiri's not bad at all"
Gouiri’s progress has been noted by Mbappé and the Paris Saint-Germain forward told L’Equipe last month: “I follow OGC Nice closely and Gouiri’s not bad at all! He has affirmed his talent. He had already put in a good season last year and he is building on it.”
Competition for places is naturally fierce with Les Bleus but there are spots potentially up for grabs behind Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema. Having starred for all of France’s age-group teams – top scoring with eight goals at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017 – Gouiri is looking more and more capable of making the last major step up from the Under-21s to the senior ranks.
Gouiri told Le Dauphiné Libéré in July 2021: “Of course Les Bleus are in a corner of my mind. It’s up to me to keep on working hard and do everything I can in order to reach that level, as sometimes things can go quickly. There’s a lot of competition for places in the attacking positions, but maybe my versatility will help me in the future.”
Capable of playing centre-forward or wide on the left, that versatility was to the fore in the Round 14 match at Clermont. Gouiri started on the left in the 4-4-2 but was switched to centre-forward by coach Christophe Galtier with Nice a goal down. Gouiri scored a fabulous double to seal the three points for the visitors to take them second in the table.
Gouiri: Middle "my natural position"
Following his double salvo, Gouiri told Canal+: “For the first goal, we were pushing. Morgan Schneiderlin played a little outside of the boot ball my way and I took it on first time. For the second goal, I sensed what was happening, the ball came to me and I tried a side-footer to the far post and it ended up in the back of the net. It’s up to me to do the job and to adapt whether I’m on the left or in the middle, which is my natural position. When you don’t play well and you win it is all the sweeter.”
Gouiri’s performance at Clermont was even more impressive given he missed France Under-21s duty injured during the most recent international window, with Galtier explaining pre-match: “Amine had an ankle problem. He didn’t train for eight or nine days and has only just got back into squad training.”
Having suffered an ACL injury in August 2018 that kept him out for seven months, Gouiri has fought back magnificently and is flourishing in the Côte d’Azur, making light of the increased competition for places following the arrivals of Andy Delort, Calvin Stengs and Justin Kluivert. Should he maintain his impressive form and scoring rate, Gouiri’s claims will make it impossible for Didier Deschamps to ignore him.