Patrick Vieira’s tenure in Major League Soccer has brought about significant improvement in his New York City FC side, but his current club will have to forge its progress without the Frenchman.
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Pro Soccer Talk can confirm reports out of France that the former Arsenal midfielder is in contact with Ligue 1 side Nice to become the club’s next manager, however, Vieira hasn’t finalized a deal yet.
This story was first reported by French outlet L’Equipe on Sunday morning.
PST has learned through several sources that Vieira is “very close” to signing with the eighth-place French side from 2017/18, and a deal is expected to be completed within the coming days despite Vieira’s commitment to NYCFC.
(Update) Nice representatives, including managing director Julien Fournier, are currently in ongoing negotiations with Vieira and his camp, which flew to France on Monday.
A source familiar with the contract discussions told PST that a deal by the end of the week is “very possible,” although the NYCFC manager is expected back in New York for the team’s training on Tuesday.
Additionally, PST has been able to confirm reports that Nice is negotiating a two-year deal with the former France international.
City Football Group, in conjunction with NYCFC, have resisted allowing their manager to leave as best as possible, however, another source says “a move away from Yankee Stadium is almost inevitable.”
Vieira is still viewed as the French side’s number one managerial target, after former coach Lucien Favre was let go by the club last week. Favre has taken the vacant Borussia Dortmund job.
Vieira’s contract with NYCFC runs through the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.
Another source close to the situation told PST that Vieira will likely take over his new post prior to the start of this summer’s World Cup in Russia, which begins on June 14, pending finalization of a deal with Nice.
Meanwhile, Nantes — who recently parted ways with manager Claudio Ranieri — has also had interest in Vieira’s services. Nantes finished one spot behind Nice in the final Ligue 1 table this season.
The French transfer window doesn’t open until June 1, despite the Premier League’s recent shift to a May 17 opening and August 9 close — prior to the opening kick off of the season.
Other top European leagues, including La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A have all continued their June 1 start dates for the summer transfer window — which runs until the final day of August.
Favre has already found a new destination with Borussia Dortmund, who will once again be involved in the UEFA Champions League next season.
Nice features a number of top-rated players at the moment, including notable transfer targets Mario Balotelli, Jean-Michael Seri and on-loan defender Marlon Santos (Barcelona).
Vieira joined NYCFC in 2016, after previously being involved in parent club Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad (EDS) as a coach.
He played professionally from 1994 to 2011, including a lengthy stint internationally for France, which featured a 1998 World Cup win and runner up in 2006 to Italy.
Since taking over in the Bronx, NYCFC has become one of MLS’ elite sides, and currently sits in second place in the Eastern Conference and MLS table on 24 points through 12 matches.
The 41-year-old Frenchman recently received some interest from Arsenal over the London side’s vacant managerial position left by Arsene Wenger, however, Vieira suggested that the approach from the Gunners was a mere gesture of courtesy.
Vieira has previously been linked to a number of European jobs, including Saint Etienne and Southampton, neither of which came to fruition.