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Patrick Vieira Named OGC Nice Head Coach, Leaves MLS' NYCFC

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2018

French former Arsenal and France star Patrick Vieira, world and European champion with Les Bleus, attends a press conference after being officialy appointed as French L1 football club of OGC Nice's new coach on June 11, 2018. - Vieira, 41, arrives after a stint at MLS outfit New York City FC. He has signed a three-year contract and replaces Lucien Favre who is moving to Borussia Dortmund. (Photo by YANN COATSALIOU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images)
YANN COATSALIOU/Getty Images

OGC Nice confirmed on Monday they have appointed New York City FC manager Patrick Vieira as their new head coach.

The Major League Soccer side said on their official website the Arsenal and France legend will be leaving the club to embark on a new challenge back in European football.

"Having the opportunity to be a head coach in New York is something many dream of," Vieira said. "Our incredibly passionate fans have made this one of the most special experiences I've had in football. Thank you to each and every one of you that stands by the team day in and day out."

The 41-year-old will take over from Lucien Favre at Nice following the Swiss' recent appointment by Borussia Dortmund.

After the news broke, Vieira posted the following message to New York fans on his Twitter account:

Patrick Vieira @OfficialVieira

https://t.co/D2NrBb63PL

The former France international retired from football in 2011 and moved into coaching, taking charge of Manchester City's under-21 side.

Vieira took over at New York in 2016, and he led the team into the semi-finals of the conference play-offs in his debut term, where they eventually lost to Toronto FC. In 2017, they fell at the same stage to Columbus Crew.

At the time of his departure, NYCFC sit in second place in the Eastern Conference in MLS, just two points behind leaders Atlanta United.

These figures from OptaJack sum up how good a job the former midfielder did during his time in New York:

OptaJack⚽️ @OptaJack

47% - Since Patrick Vieira took over, New York City FC won 47% of their #MLS matches, the best of any club that has been around since the start of the 2016 season. Adieu. https://t.co/kajAkH1qLW

The move will see Vieira take charge of a European club for the first time, and a prestigious outfit such as Nice will mean more focus is on him.

European football journalist Andy Brassell believes the potential is there for the Ligue 1 team to perform well under his guidance:

Andy Brassell @andybrassell

Nice is a really good landing spot for Vieira. Club on the up with rapidly improving (& already improved) infrastructure, but in need of semi-rebuild of playing staff & without too much pressure. If he does well there, he’ll be in demand.

Nice qualified for the UEFA Champions League under Favre at the end of the 2016-17 season, although they failed to replicate those heights last year as they finished in eighth spot.

There are some talented players in the squad, but Vieira may have some key men to replace this summer. Star midfielder Jean Michael Seri and last season's top goalscorer, Mario Balotelli, whose contract with the club expires this summer, are players whose future the new boss will seek to resolve.