Le50 2017 – Vincent Koziello
The baby-faced Nice midfielder enjoyed a stellar 2015/16 campaign at the heart of a Nice side which earned a Europa League spot. While Nice went one step better this year, the same can’t be said for Vincent Koziello’s own progression.
Despite being held in high esteem by Nice, and Lucien Favre who counted on the performances of the 22-year-old during an unprecedented injury crisis in the latter stages of the season, the emergence of Remi Walter and the competition for places in that technical midfield has had an impact on Koziello.
And that fact is not lost on the pensive midfielder, who has even regarded the somewhat limited game time as an important measure of his development.
“I’m still satisfied. I played less than last season, it is true, but I feel that I have progressed in my game, that I am more mature, that I have gained levels. I am therefore very satisfied. I’ve had nearly 20 starts in Ligue 1, national cup matches, European Cup matches. I think I have accumulated a lot of experience.”
It is a testament to Koziello’s maturity and level-headedness that he has regarded this as part of the learning curve of a young footballer, putting his trust into the manager despite being keen to play every game. Nevertheless, there remains much to shout about in Koziello’s season.
A highly gifted technical midfielder, his qualities have fitted in well with Favre’s style of play. He is blessed with great vision and movement to seek out and retain possession of the ball. Yet, it is his pressing and energy that complements team-mates Jean-Michel Seri and Wylan Cyprien. Together, Nice have a highly competent midfield that are able to run down opponents throughout the 90 minutes.
Don’t let the appearance fool you. He may look like a youngster who has been invited to take the ‘coup d’envoi fictif’ pre-match, but this is a player with determination and guile in abundance. A player who enjoys getting stuck in with the challenges. OK, maybe not with the powerhouses in Angers. But his penchant for ball retention and ball interception is key to his defensive game.
With a firesale expected at the Allianz Rivieira over the summer, it is perhaps understandable to question Koziello’s own future with the likes of the two Milan giants reportedly interested in the diminutive midfielder. Nevertheless, the 22-year-old has ruled out a move away from the south-coast for 2017/18; “There is no ambiguity. The club gives me their confidence and I continue to be happy to meet their expectations.” A good thing too, with Champions League football set to arrive at the Allianz after six decades. If a squad turnover should occur, Lucien Favre will be able to count on Koziello.
In turn, Koziello has much to prove in order to justify the interest in him with Nice firmly in the spotlight next season. It will be a big 12 months for the young midfielder, who relishes the challenge: “That’s my Gym. Putting OGC Nice back at the front of the stage in France is something that is very important to me and I am very proud of it.”