After finishing fourth back in May 2013, Nice have declined rapidly and had an awful finish to their 2013-14 season that saw them end up just two points outside the relegation zone. In the summer, they’ve lost yet more experience, leading to many feeling that the club will have another campaign swimming against the tide. However, between all those dark clouds there is a shining light and it comes in the form of their diminutive forward Alexy Bosetti.
The Nice native began his association with the club back in 2009, making his first-team debut in the final game of the 2011-12 season coming on as a substitute for the final five minutes against Lyon. Although it was a fleeting view of the youngster, it was a sign of things to come as he made a much larger contribution to the team the following season with 26 appearances overall, making four starts.
Despite still only being a bit-part player, he impressed in his brief cameos and even managed to notch two assists in a really encouraging season for the south-east coast side. He continued his slow rise into the first-team in the 2013-14 campaign, making 20 appearances but with eight starts and managing to score five goals which included the very first goal in the new Allianz Riviera. It was a special moment, a goal scored by the local boy who prefers when he is not included in the squad to watch the game alongside the Ultras of his beloved Brigade Sud rather than in the hospitality boxes, in the city’s brand new stadium built as part of France’s Euro 2016 bid.
He also played a part in the French U-20’s World Cup win in 2013, regularly coming off the bench with half an hour to go to give the team much needed intensity to get across the finish line. Whilst he failed to score during the tournament, it is an experience that will stand him in good stead for the future and will give him that winning mentality needed to become a better player.
Now with the departure of loanee Christian Brüls and the indifferent form of Dario Cvitanich, who’s also just picked up a considerable injury, it’s up to Bosetti to come in and fill the void for Nice and so far he’s showed his more than capable of doing so. In five games, he has scored three goals and he is repaying the faith that manager Claude Puel has placed in the youngster in spades, the only hope is that the 21-year-old can continue it all season long.
Born in 1993 in the city to a family of Italian origins and the great-grandnephew of composer Henri Betti, Bosetti is a player that can create great moments and finish them off to a great crescendo. Able to play both out wide on the right or as a central striker, he likes to sit on the final man and anticipate when a chance may come his way. He combines that with great anticipation, able to capitalise on opportunities much like the poor back-pass by Metz last week where he managed to nick the winner.
He is a quality finisher when through on goal, capable of keeping his composure to slot the ball past any on-rushing goalkeepers and he’s consistently shown that he’s dangerous when left alone in the box. Not only that, he showed against Bordeaux that he can score from further out too. Curling an effort with the outside of his foot from 20 yards out into the top corner, it was literally a warning shot to the rest of Ligue 1 that giving him any kind of space is perilous.
He has a very tenacious and all-action style to his play, willing to run around hassling the opponents in an attempt to relieve the pressure off of the defence and isn’t afraid of getting stuck in for the team. He’s that kind of player that wears his heart on his sleeve and it’s shown almost literally in his celebration, lifting up the arm of his shirt to show his tattoo sleeve and celebrate with the fans and his team-mates. That passion has also got him into trouble in the past, a very dangerous two-footed challenge on Cheikh M’Bengue that luckily the defender dodged saw Bosetti sent off and whilst there hasn’t been an incident since, it was certainly a warning sign that he needs to sometimes control his emotions of the football field.
With the talent that Bosetti has shown early on and the consistency he’s getting with a longer run within the starting eleven, he could become an incredibly valuable player to Nice and might even be able to force his way into Didier Deschamps’ squad as another attacking option for the national side. He needs to continue curbing that enthusiasm into a positive attitude, hone his skills and allow himself the freedom to grow despite having a lot of pressure placed upon his young shoulders.