PLAYER RATINGS | Nice 1-0 Angers, lacklustre Angers flattered by narrow score line

Ligue 1 21/22, Round 25 – 20/2/22

NICE – 1 (Kluivert 19)

Walter Daniel Benítez, 5

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Jordan Lotomba, 6

Jean-Clair Todibo, 5

Dante, 5

Melvin Bard, 6

Khéphren Thuram, 7 – He’s quickly becoming Nice’s leading midfield option ahead of Lemina and Rosario. His positioning and dynamism helped Nice comfortably win the midfield battle and he often arrived late to support attacks too. A real driving force.

Pablo Rosario, 6

Justin Kluivert, 7 – The Dutchman provided a composed finish to give Nice the lead in the first half and he was an intermittent but skillful threat with his creativity and pace, often finding space behind Angers’ wing-backs. His shaped deliveries were often on point but he did fade as the match wore on.

Hicham Boudaoui, 4

Andy Delort, 6 – He’s proven wildly inconsistent of late but this was a more even and persistent display than others in 2022. He was unlucky to see a second half headed goal just ruled offside by VAR and he often exposed Angers’ back three with his movement.

Kasper Dolberg, 4

Others: Gouiri 5, Daniliuc 5, Lemina 5, Schneiderlin 5.


Danijel Petković, 4 – He rashly stormed out to confront Kluivert who easily slipped a shot under him for the opener and was fortunate to get away with spilling a Delort free kick. He did well to scoop away Thuram’s deflected effort before half time, however, and improved after the break.

Enzo Ebosse, 3

Ismaël Traoré, 4

Romain Thomas, 4

Vincent Manceau, 4 – Came on very early on for the injured Cabot.

Souleyman Doumbia, 4

Batista Mendy, 3

Nabil Bentaleb, 5

Angelo Fulgini, 3

Sofiane Boufal, 6 – Not far from 7. He was responsible for nearly everything Angers produced in a positive sense, regularly committing defenders via a smattering of jinking runs and was Angers’ only tangible creative outlet.

Mohamed-Ali Cho, 3 – Frustratingly isolated throughout upon his return to the starting XI as Todibo and the physical Dante handled him with ease. He badly dragged his only real chance wide in the first half. Lacked gumption.

Others: Cabot 5, Ounahi 5, Bahoken 5.

Ligue 1 Team Of The Week | Matchday 24, 2021/22

GK, Matthieu Dreyer (Lorient) – A perennial understudy throughout his career, he inherited the number one jersey after Paul Nardi was dropped for poor form with Lorient unable to find a replacement in January. In this draw with Monaco, he was solid throughout and commanded his area well while adding two excellent second-half saves, most memorably with a foot from a Ben Yedder header.

FB, Dimitri Liénard (Strasbourg) – He seems to have won the battle over Anthony Caci at left-wing-back, despite it not being his natural role, and he again impressed for Strasbourg as the win at Angers kept RCSA in the top four.

CB, Léo Pétrot (Lorient) – As a reserve with Saint-Etienne, seeing few first-team opportunities, rarely did he look like becoming a Ligue 1 player – especially as part of a two-man centre-back set up, but here he handled Volland and Ben Yedder well in the draw with Monaco. An acrobatic clearance ahead of Ben Yedder late on was key.

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CB, Castello Lukeba (Lyon) – Increasingly commanding and assured, Lukeba is quickly becoming the discovery of the Ligue 1 season and he marshalled the Lyon defence expertly in the win over Nice. With Jérôme Boateng’s status uneasy, he’s not far off becoming Lyon’s defensive leader.

FB, Facundo Medina (Lens) – He led his team in defensive actions with 13 in the 3-2 win over Bordeaux, which included a committed diving block on a powerful Elis shot before halftime. He can be erratic at times but here his all-action style worked in his favour.

DM, Maxence Caqueret (Lyon) – He was lucky to get away with being pickpocketed by Kluivert before halftime but that was his only error as OL impressive beat Nice. His varied and intelligent passing and precise dribbling pushed Lyon forward throughout and many of his side’s more dangerous attacks originated via an astute Caqueret ball deep in midfield.

CM, Tanguy Ndombele (Lyon) – He was clearly keen to impress upon his return to Parc OL for the win over Nice and played with a verve, confidence and intensity rarely seen since his departure. His clever reverse cross found Toko-Ekambi for the second and he could have had two more assists via a pair of intelligent through balls for Dembélé.

AM, Téji Savanier (Montpellier) – Despite the unfortunate loss to Lille, he was the central protagonist as usual and was a constant threat via some teasing crossing and sharp midfield interplay while being unlucky not to score due to a second-half volley being well blocked after Jardim’s smart near-post save before halftime.

WF, Frank Honorat (Brest) – It was he who pinched possession from Palmer-Brown to square for Satriano’s second in the 5-1 mauling of Troyes and he arrived late in support of a counter to fire home for 3-1 before clinically finishing off the fourth. Along with Jonathan Gradit of Lens, he remains Ligue 1’s most underrated player.

WF, Kylian Mbappé (PSG) – He rarely played with the intensity he’s capable of but was still PSG’s standout threat all night against Rennes with some jinking skill in midfield and a turn of pace on the flanks. It was he who won the game late on with a precise finish having effortlessly been the game’s best player.

ST, Martín Satriano (Brest) – His deft chest control and volleyed finish brilliantly opened the scoring as Brest beat Troyes 5-1, it may have been the goal of the weekend, and he made an alert run to tap home for 2-0. His movement and persistence were a threat throughout and he linked up astutely with Honorat.

Lazio to enter talks over PSG goalkeeper Sergio Rico

RMC Sport have this afternoon corroborated Gazzetta dello Sport‘s reports that Lazio are interested in signing Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Sergio Rico, currently on loan at Mallorca.

The Spaniard, who moved on loan in search of playing time this winter, will be the subject of upcoming discussions between the Serie A side and PSG.

Les Parisiens are interested in selling, with the presence of Keylor Navas and Gianluigi Donnarumma sending the former Sevilla man down the pecking order in Paris after initially joining in 2020.

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The Biancocelesti will first enquire over the feasability of a transfer, taking into account the fact that their current goalkeepers Thomas Strakosha and Pepe Reina are soon out of contract as well.

Marseille manager Jorge Sampaoli says Dimitri Payet is best as a number 9

Speaking ahead of Marseille’s match against Troyes tomorrow and in the wake of the Europa League win over Qarabağ, manager Jorge Sampaoli notably discussed Dimitri Payet’s role in his set-up.

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His words transcribed in RMC Sport, the Argentine was responding to questions on the difficulties in establishing a formation that can use both Dimitri Payet and Arkadiusz Milik. The latter was an unused substitute in the midweek game, and had previously indirectly lamented his inconsistent game time.

“When we name the starting XI, the collective side is more important than looking to put two players together on the pitch, even if they are two important players in the final 30 metres. I think Dimitri’s best position is as a number 9 as he loses a bit of his capacity out wide.”

“There is a collective system which comes before placing two players on the pitch. Milik is very important in terms of finishing. The easiest things for me to do would be to put the big names on the pitch, but there is a collective system to find.”


PSG’s Leonardo reiterates Pochettino support and denies contact with Zidane

In his lengthy interview published in today’s L’Équipe, Paris Saint-Germain director notably discussed the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Amid reports of a search for a replacement – with Zinédine Zidane’s name often being linked to the club – the former midfielder nevertheless reiterated his support for the Argentine.

“Right now, he still has a year left on his contract. Honestly, we’ve never thought about changing managers. We’ve never contacted Zidane or anyone else. Before coming here, Pochettino was always among the top five managers and he’s still there.”

“You can see his progression, even if a lot of things have happened. I see him as being increasingly committed, because over time you become more familiar with your surroundings.”

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“I think he had a few moments of doubt, but he’s never asked to leave. He might have gone through some difficult times, in February or March [of last year], when he had Covid-19. Then, over the summer, there were rumours of him leaving. He’s said that no club reached out to him and we haven’t been contacted either.”

“[On Poch telling L’Équipe in autumn that he was brought in to put PSG’s ideas in place, not his own] That might have been his impression at the time. You’re under pressure in an 11th division club, so imagine in one of the most important clubs in the world. But you have to be straight – when you look at what we did last summer in the transfer window, it’s either for now or it’s for the future.”

“[On being a long-term commitment] We’ve never thought the contrary and he’s never asked to leave. How can a manager in his situation not be motivated? You have that kind of squad, the Champions League ahead of you, you’re at PSG where you yourself were as a player. I don’t even see how it can be a topic of discussion.”

“[On Thomas Tuchel] You can’t predict that he would have won the Champions League had he stayed here. It’s a question that depends on context, nested in a lot of elements. At the time [December 2020] we maybe saw no future with him. The question was knowning whether we would go to the end of the contract without guarantees or if we would stop it before. It’s the choice we made.”

Lyon’s Jean-Michel Aulas laments refereeing decision in Lille game

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has reacted on Twitter following the refereeing decision to rule out Lucas Paquetá’s late equaliser against Lille last night.

Responding to a tweet with an image appearing to show Lille goalkeeper Leo Jardim as the one to kick the attacking midfielder, Aulas has requested an explanation from Pascal Garibian, French refereeing’s national director. 

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VAR had ruled out the goal after Jardim’s mistake saw Paquetá score into an open goal, for a supposed foul by the latter in the process.

Alongside the image is another one of Malo Gusto’s tussle with Neymar during their match with Paris Saint-Germain, which saw a penalty awarded to Lyon without VAR being called on to reverse the decision.

Les Gones fell to defeat at home tonight as Lille leapfrogged them into 8th with a first-half goal from Gabriel Gudmundsson enough for the three points.

OGC Nice meet with Ivorian starlet Karim Konaté this week

As reported by Le10Sport, OGC Nice are interested in signing 17-year-old Ivorian international Karim Konaté.

Nice representatives met with the skilful attacker earlier this week, who was part of the Ivory Coast’s AFCON squad, and the French club are ready to push to secure the player’s signature but this will be tricky as they face competition from various European sides.

Foot Mercato reported earlier this month that Austrian club RB Salzburg have also made an approach for the highly-regarded youngster, making a €2m offer which includes a healthy resale percentage for his current club ASEC Mimosa.

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Nice’s Christophe Galtier against a boycott of Dmitry Rybolovlev-owned Monaco

Speaking ahead of tonight’s Coupe de France semi-final against Versailles, Nice manager Christophe Galtier notably opposed the idea of boycotting Monaco in the wake of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

His words transcribed in RMC Sport, last year’s title-winning manager explained that it made “no sense” to sanction the club, owned by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Rybolovlev is owner and club president, and has placed several of his compatriots in important positions at the principality, notably Oleg Petrov as vice-president general director. 

“I have no problem with facing Monaco. We have a duty to show support to the people of Ukraine, to Ukrainian athletes, and more specifically to footballers and managers, but we can’t blame everyone who has Russian citizenship.”

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Official | Nice extend veteran defender Dante’s contract to 2023

As confirmed by the club, OGC Nice have announced that club captain and veteran centre-back Dante will stay at the club for at least one more season, extending his current deal to the summer of 2023.

Dante will be 39-years-old in October and 188 of his 591 career club games have come for Nice.

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Director Julian Fournier said last month that Dante’s future was “no longer a question of contracts”, and that “if he still wants to play, he will keep playing for us. He will stay with us for some time still, you can get used to seeing him!”

Maxime Estève close to agreeing Montpellier contract extension

As reported by France Bleu, Montpellier’s 19-year-old centre-back Maxime Estève is close to agreeing a new deal with the club.

The defender impressed in Olivier Dall’Oglio’s first team at the start of the season having only just signed his first professional deal with the club but he has since missed several recent games through injury. Nevertheless, the player has done enough to convince the club to offer a new deal lasting to 2025. AC Milan and Roma had been interested in signing the defender in the summer.

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Montpellier are keen to make Estève a major part of their side for years to come and his new deal follows the agreement for striker Elye Wahi, another young prospect, to stay at the club in the longer term too.