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15.05.2019 12:20

PSG still after young Nice star Atal

OGC Nice has not been quite as famous as its close rivals AS Monaco for producing a raft of young talent that is sought by the top clubs, but this looks set to change.

The County of Nice and the region of Monaco are both lining up for the 2019 CONIFA European Cup next month and will hope their chances will increase because of the array of local talent they have at their disposal.

What goes on at the club level is often reflective of this, and both regions will be pleased to see that efforts to raise great football talent at the youth level are beginning to pay off. AS Monaco has been in the headlines for the last few years because they sold some burgeoning players in multimillion-euro deals, including the sale of Kylian Mbappé for over €150m.

However, with AS Monaco barely staying afloat in Ligue 1 this season, it would seem the younger stars at OGC Nice are now attracting attention. The latest footballer to enter into the spotlight is Youcef Atal, who has drawn comparisons to some of the best fullbacks in the game.

PSG’s current incumbent of the right-back slot is the Belgian Thomas Meunier, but he is expected to move on at the end of the season. While PSG has amassed some incredible players up front with the likes of Mbappé, Neymar and Edinson Cavani, their defence has seen them failed to progress as intended in Europe.

They have still been unable to get close to winning the Champions League and have still not made it to the semi-finals despite all their riches and investments over the last decade. It seems that they are now primed for a new assault on the top of the European game and have made Atal a priority.

Atal has only been with OCG Nice for one season, but it may well seem to other players that they are aware of the potential of moving to the area and joining a club with higher standing, similar to how AS Monaco has been positioning itself.

In recent years, AS Monaco has sold a raft of players to the Premier League, and now OCG Nice could also be a side that competes to sign developing players.

It is likely to benefit CONIFA sides, as the region becomes more interested in the calibre of football and become more serious about seeing local youth players having a chance to shine and perform.

With the region of Monaco and the County of Nice hoping to face off in the 2019 CONIFA European Cup from 1 June, they will be looking to show who is best on the pitch at the regional level as well as the club level.

Words: Josh Dixon

Images: PA