Patrick Vieira has signed a three-year contract with Nice. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
After weeks of rumors and reports that Patrick Vieira would leave New York City FC, the other soccer boot dropped Sunday.
The NYCFC head coach will leave the Major League Soccer team to guide Nice in his native France.
City Football Group, which owns NYCFC and Manchester City, announced the 41-year-old Vieira will join the Ligue 1 side immediately. (Editor’s note: Man City had announced the news on its website, but pulled the story later).
Vieira reportedly has agreed to a three-year contract and will take most of his coaching staff with him. That would include assistant coach Christian Lattanzio, performance coach Kristian Wilson and physical performance coach Matt Cook
“From the beginning, City Football Group and its leadership, particularly our chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Brian Marwood, Ferran Soriano and Marty Edelman have believed in me and have helped guide me through the last eight years of my career — starting with my time as a player and ultimately culminating with my first opportunity to manage a first team,” Vieira said in a statement in a press release.
Replacing Jason Kreis after a disappointing maiden season in 2015, Vieira turned NYCFC’s fortunes around dramatically, transforming the team into a respected side and eventually into an MLS power. He left with a 39-27-22 mark during his tenure.
Vieira leaves the team in good shape. NYCFC (8-3-4, 28 points) is in second place in the Eastern Conference, trailing Atlanta United FC (9-3-3, 30) by two points.
“Khaldoon and I have been fortunate to know Patrick since he joined City Football Group in 2010,” NYCFC vice chairman Marty Edelman said in a statement. “After being one of the most revered and successful players in the world, it has been a pleasure for us to watch his transition into coaching.
“Patrick has been a fantastic role model at NYCFC and a true leader on and off the field. We know that leaving the Club has been a difficult decision for him but we understand his choice to return to Europe where he spent his whole playing career.”
NYCFC will look to name Vieira’s successor over the next two weeks, as the team has off during a World Cup break. City will host Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium Sunday, June 24 at 5 p.m.
Rodolfo Borrell, an assistant coach at Manchester City, is the favorite to replace Vieira, according to the Washington Post’s Steve Goff. Borrell also has coached at Barcelona and Liverpool. If hired, NYCFC would be Borrell’s first job as a head coach as he has worked as a scout and youth coach.
Nice finished in eighth place in Ligue 1 during the 2017-18 season, one place out of a berth for European competition.
Vieira, who was born in Dakar, Senegal, is a legend in France and England. He was a member of the national team that captured the 1998 World Cup in France. He also was an important cog in Arsenal’s great success in the English Premier League from 1996-2005.