Nice has qualified for the Champions League, so why would under-contract manager Lucien Favre go elsewhere?
Big wins for Monaco (4-0 over Lille) and PSG (5-0 at Saint-Etienne) mean the former and Ligue 1 leader needs only one point from its last two games to clinch the title, which it could do as soon as Wednesday when it plays Saint-Etienne. After a superb season in the Principality, the big question will be which players stay and who goes. A similar headache awaits for Nice president Jean-Pierre Riviere, whose club, despite losing 2-0 at home to Angers, has sealed third place and a spot in the Champions League.
First, the architect of this success, coach Lucien Favre. The Swiss manager has a contract until 2021, but he is already on the list of Borussia Dortmund. Bayer Leverkusen is also interested, and other suitors could emerge, depending on who else moves around. Keeping Favre has to be Riviere’s priority.
Other stars of this campaign will definitely leave. Captain Paul Baysse is out of contract and claimed not to have received an offer to renew. He would be an attractive free agent. Then there are the loan players: Mario Balotelli will go back to AC Milan and Younes Belhanda to Dynamo Kiev, but after a good season, the Ukrainian club will likely sell him on. Nice had a €10 million option to purchase but turned it down.
Right winger Ricardo Pereira has been outstanding this season; he is on loan from FC Porto, and available for €25 million. Porto want to loan him out for one more year and increase that release clause. The fifth starter likely to leave is Ivorian midfielder Jean Michael Seri, who has been linked to PSG and English clubs. If someone comes close to his release clause (said to be €40 million), then he will leave too.
Who does that leave for Nice? Left back Dalbert Henrique, center backs Dante and Malang Sarr, midfielder Vincent Koziello, striker Alassane Plea and winger Wylan Cyprien. Add in a question mark over goalkeeper Yoann Cardinale and it could be a challenging summer ahead for Riviere on the Riviera–and fodder for why Favre would seek another sideline option.