OGC Nice

Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Newcastle adds mercurial Saint-Maximin, Dutch back Willems

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Newcastle has now filled three needs in the transfer market window, taking on combustible wizard Allan Saint-Maximin from Nice and loaning Dutch international leftback Jetro Willems from Eintracht Frankfurt.

[ MORE: Maguire, meet expectations ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, is known for his many tricks and adventurous dribbles, and will be expected to fill the void left by Ayoze Perez. The fee is expected to climb above $22 million, and the player is comparable to former Newcastle fan favorite Hatem Ben Arfa in both skill and attitude, having had some issues with Patrick Vieira at Nice last season.

The young right wing has 11 goals and 14 assists in 74 appearances for the Ligue 1 outfit, and was Nice’s second-best rated player last season according to WhoScored.com. His 4.2 successful dribbles per game ranked second in Ligue 1, behind only… Ben Arfa.

Watch him go:

Newcastle has a loan-to-buy deal when it comes to Willems, who leaves much-changed Eintracht with 22 Netherlands caps, a German Cup, and a decent trophy case from his time with PSV Eindhoven.

At 25, Willems is a candidate for Newcastle to buy after the season and also would give Steve Bruce some flexibility going to a back four, as Paul Dummett has been a decent left center back in a 3-5-2 but not so good at out-and-out LB.

Here’s how the Magpies could line up in both a 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1 next season if no more players arrive at St. James’ Park.

3-4-3

Dubravka

Lascelles — Schar — Dummett

Ritchie — Shelvey — Longstaff — Willems

Saint-Maximin — Joelinton — Almiron

4-2-3-1

Dubravka

Yedlin — Lascelles — Schar — Willems

Shelvey — Longstaff

Saint-Maximin —  Almiron — Muto

Joelinton

Nice weekend for Vieira’s Nice, Henry’s Monaco

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PSG is running away with Ligue 1, but MLS and Arsenal fans have had a couple of reasons to follow the French top flight this season.

Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira are in their first European managerial adventures, and both have had good weekends.

[ MORE: Arsenal tops Bournemouth ]

That’s been a rarity in the case of Henry, who took over a shockingly under-performing AS Monaco and oversaw just two draws in his first six matches.

On Saturday at Caen, a Radamel Falcao free kick was enough to get Henry that first win. Monaco is now two points back of safety, in 19th place.

Vieira’s run with Nice started slow but has picked up serious steam, and his men are within four points back of second place Lyon.

Nice got goals from Wylan Cyprien and Allan Saint-Maximin in a 2-0 win over Lille, stretching the club’s winning run to five matches. Four of those matches have come in the league, and all are clean sheets.

Both Henry and Vieira have been unafraid to speak their minds, with the latter calling out Mario Balotelli a couple of weeks ago.

Their sides meet Dec. 7 in Monaco.

PSG has a 15-point lead on second, and is 14-0-0 on the season. They have that going for them, which is nice.

Sources: Patrick Vieira move to Nice being finalized

Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Beyond Soccer Series
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New York City FC’s fantastic start to 2018 will have to continue without its manager, as Patrick Vieira is set to move overseas.

Multiple sources have told Pro Soccer Talk that Vieira’s move to Ligue 1 side OGC Nice –which was reported by PST over the weekend — are being finalized as contract negotiations are in advanced stages.

A two-year contract is currently on the table for Vieira to join the French club, who finished eighth place in Ligue 1 during the 2017/18 campaign.


Updated: Multiple sources have told PST that Nice has stepped up its negotiations with Vieira over the weekend, and that a deal between the two sides is getting very close to completion.

A resolution to the contract discussions could be finalized as early as Wednesday, however, another source tells PST that it could take until the end of the week as Vieira is seeking a defined role at his new club.

French outlet RMC Sport reported that Nice executive director Julien Fournier is expected to fly to New York this week to try and close the deal, and that could occur on Tuesday or Wednesday.

There hasn’t been confirmation over when Fournier will arrive though.

Finally, L’Equipe has reported that NYCFC will in fact be due a buyout for the remainder of Vieira’s contract, which is estimated to be $350,000 towards the MLS side.


There aren’t any indications to this point as to whether or not NYCFC has an interim manager in mind to replace the outgoing Vieira.

The 41-year-old manager has spent the last two-plus seasons in New York City, guiding NYCFC to back-to-back second-place finishes in the Eastern Conference. He took over at the team in 2016, following the firing of the team’s first-ever manager Jason Kreis (now at Orlando City).

Vieira will be replacing Lucien Favre at Nice, who recently left the club at the conclusion of the Ligue 1 season. Favre has since taken the vacant managerial position at Borussia Dortmund.

Over recent months, Vieira has been linked to several other European jobs, including Saint Etienne (Ligue 1) and Southampton (Premier League), neither of which escalated to a serious level of interest.

Nice says Balotelli booked for reacting to racist abuse

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NICE, France (AP) French club Nice says striker Mario Balotelli was shown a yellow card for complaining about racist abuse he received from Dijon fans on Saturday.

[ MORE: Neymar nets winner at Toulouse ]

Nice tweeted the Italian forward, who was booked in the 74th minute of a 3-2 away defeat by referee Nicolas Rainville, was cautioned after remonstrating with fans about the abuse. No further details were given.

In comments after the French league game posted on Nice’s official website, Nice coach Lucien Favre and club president Jean-Pierre Riviere were critical of decisions made by Rainville but did not mention Balotelli.

In January 2017, Balotelli – the son of Ghanaian immigrants to Italy – spoke out against Bastia fans he said made monkey noises during a match. The French league subsequently opened an investigation.

Balotelli reportedly gets first Italy recall since 2014 World Cup

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Mario Balotelli is back in the frame for Italy as interim coach Luigi Di Biagio will reportedly recall the big striker to the national team.

Football Italia says Balotelli, 27, will have the chance to wear the blue of his national team when the side faces Argentina and England next month.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 27 ]

A 13-goal scorer in 17 league matches for Nice, Balotelli has five more goals between Champions League and Europa League matches plus a cup goal to give him 19 in 25.

Balotelli has 13 goals in 33 caps, but his mercurial nature has stopped him from earning a cap since the 2014 World Cup ended with a 1-0 group stage loss to Uruguay.

He’s tied for sixth in Ligue 1 when it comes to goals, level with ex-Newcastle man Florian Thauvin and behind Neymar, Edinson Cavani, Falcao, Nabil Fekir, and Mariano, and is also among the Ligue 1 leaders in shots and yellow cards.

Unfortunately, any continued growth will likely not lead to another World Cup with Italy having missed its chance for Russia 2018.