With Jean-Clair Todibo's suspension, Youssouf Ndayishimiye may once again feature in defense for OGC Nice against Stade Rennais this Saturday (9 p.m.), his versatility making him a linchpin for Les Aiglons.
"Since the season's start, we've witnessed the balance he brings to the team," says Francesco Farioli, OGC Nice’s manager, ahead of their clash with Stade Rennais as he speaks glowingly of Ndayishimiye, the team’s robust and adaptable midfielder.
Signed just a year ago from Istanbul's Basaksehir, the 25-year-old Burundian hsa quickly endeared himself to his teammates. Credit for this astute signing goes to Florent Ghisolfi, Nice's then-new sporting director, who had tried to recruit him for Lens. However, it is with Les Aiglons that Ndayishimiye has thrived, assuming a dual role as both a central midfielder during offensive phases and the third central defender during defensive phases.
"My goal is to contribute to the team by playing as many matches as possible," he states. "Regardless of where the coach positions me, I aim to assist my teammates. I played a similar role in Turkey, so adapting was easy."
Upon Farioli's arrival at Nice, Ndayishimiye's impact became decisive. "Since the season's start, we've observed his physical influence and the stability he imparts to the team," notes the manager. His proficiency with the ball at his feet gives him another layer of significance.
"We prefer building up from the back. So, JC (Todibo, suspended against Rennes), Youssouf, and Dante are crucial in our build-up play," emphasizes teammate Gaëtan Laborde, a striker.
Now gaining international attention, Ndayishimiye, with a contract until June 2027 and is in top form after recovering from a sprained right knee that sidelined him for eight matches last season, focused on delivering consistent performances.
"I'm a simple person," he says. "I'll always stay grounded. Comments don't bother me; I'm here to do my job. I hope this continues until the season's end." His declared goal is to achieve European success.
Having missed AFCON, where qualification with Burundi seemed challenging, he has dedicated himself entirely to OGC Nice.
Despite the recent absences of Khéphren Thuram, Jean-Clair Todibo, and Dante, he remains a pillar of the team’s lineup. The only setback has been his sending-off against Rennes in the league. Promptly after the match, he apologized for his excessive commitment, vowing not to repeat it.
"When I was absent, Képhren (Thuram) performed exceptionally well in my position," he acknowledges. "Ultimately, the coach decides (on the lineup). We players can only strive to convince him. If you slack off, someone else will step up."
Thus, Ndayishimiye has continued his development. Farioli emphasizes, "His progress lies in refining individual details. Moving from central defense to midfield requires adjusting body shape, having more mobility, and getting the ball forward more seamlessly.”
Additionally, scoring more goals is an area for improvement. "I want this to happen, and the coach doesn't restrict me," emphasizes the man who has scored only one goal with the side who are currently second in the Ligue 1 table.
"Transitioning from central defender to playmaker is only a few meters on the pitch," concludes Farioli. "But the difference in approach is substantial. It will take time, and he'll reach the pinnacle of his abilities."