Sir Jim Ratcliffe, one of Britain’s richest men, days ago completed a stunning £91 million takeover of French side Nice, and he’s shown his intent by sanctioning deals to sign FC Lorient wide man Alexis Claude-Maurice and Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg. Football is an industry Ratcliffe knows well as he’s the owner of Swiss outfit Lausanne-Sport, and he’ll now be using his experience and wealth to turn Nice into significant players.
Nice, who are managed by former , have won two of their opening three games this season, tasting defeat last time out at the hands of Andre Villas-Boas’ Marseille side. The aim for Ratcliffe will undoubtedly be to propel Nice forward as quickly as possible, taking from an outfit expected to finish in the top six or seven, to a team capable of mixing it with the likes of PSG, Monaco and Lyon. This can be regarded as a realistic target, considering the man behind the club. So it is definitely worthwhile for punters to for the odds on Nice finishing in the Top 4 at the very least.
Claude-Maurice, 21, has joined Nice from Ligue 2 side FC Lorient, where the Frenchman managed to score 19 times in 61 games. Signing a 5-year deal, Claude-Maurice fits the bill as he’s young, determined, and has considerable potential. Kasper Dolberg, also 21, has the same qualities, with the Danish attacker having caught the eye of Europe’s top clubs since arriving on the scene at Ajax.
Ajax, famed for developing a wealth of talent, saw Dolberg set the Eredivisie alight, scoring an impressive 45 goals and making 16 assists in 119 games. With Denmark caps to his name already, the future certainly looks bright for Dolberg, who now has the chance to impress in Ligue 1 under Vieira’s guidance. to secure Dolberg’s services for the next five years, while Claude-Maurice becomes Ligue 2’s most expensive sale ever, with the figure in the region of €14 million.
The average age of the current first-team squad at Nice is just 23.5, and this signals the intent of both Ratcliffe and Vieira to build and develop a side that can become a significant force for years to come. Speaking of his plans, new owner Ratcliffe said, “With some sensible, measured investment, we want to establish Nice as a team that competes in European club competition on a regular basis. And importantly, sustain it.”
Ratcliffe’s first foray into the world of football has had a few hiccups, with Ratcliffe commenting, “We made some mistakes at Lausanne, but these have been rectified, and we are already seeing the benefits.”
“Clubs need to be successful off the pitch, as well as on it, and OGC Nice will be no different, as we look to take the club from strength to strength in all aspects over the coming years,” he added.
Nice supporters and fans of their rivals will now watch on as Ratcliffe, who is said to be worth over £18 billion, supplies the club and Vieira with everything they need to be successful. The blueprint of signing young, hungry and talented players is one which is sure to pay dividends further down the line, and Nice could become one of Europe’s top outfits in several years.