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Nice director of football Fournier reveals how he sells young stars like Kluivert on club's 'huge fantasy'

8:03 PM SGT 14/1/22
Nice Ligue 1 2021
The man who oversees transfers at Allianz Riviera has offered an insight into his process of attracting top talent

Nice sporting director Julien Fournier has revealed how he sells young stars like Justin Kluivert on the club's "huge fantasy".

Nice are currently enjoying a stellar 2021-22 campaign that has seen them rise to second in Ligue 1 after 20 matches, although they are 11 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Christophe Galtier's side are on course to qualify for the Champions League, with the French coach quickly gelling together a strong team after a busy summer of transfers helped by the huge financial backing of owners Ineos.

What has been said?

Kluivert, Jean-Clair Todibo, Melvin Bard and Calvin Stengs have all impressed as Nice have emerged as surprise top-four contenders and Fournier has now offered an insight into how he has been able to bring so many talented young players to the club.

"I may be putting down a huge fantasy, but it's done in a simple way," the Nice chief told GOAL.

"For my part, I like to move around, show the interest of the club and meet the player in his environment.

"That is to say, I try to invite myself to his home - and if I can't, we meet in the private rooms of a hotel. When we want to look for a young player, I always try to see the parents.

"Apart from the agent, I like to talk to the family members because it also allows me to get a feel for the boy's environment."

Fournier added on how he went about arranging the Dutch forward's loan move from Roma: "We can take the example of Justin Kluivert, in whom we showed interest very early on.

"Initially, Nice didn't speak to him much, even though he had played and lost against us with Amsterdam [in 2017-18 Champions League qualification].

"He was coming off three clubs that had played in the Champions League and was perhaps aspiring for something else. So I brought him to the training centre during an OGC Nice match against Reims, before going to see him.

"That allowed me to show him the facilities and to have a discussion with him in total secrecy. At the time, I couldn't tell him who the coach would be but I said to him 'you'll see, we'll have a top level coach, trust me on that'.

"He came back a second time with Calvin Stengs. We locked ourselves in the office for a morning with Christophe Galtier and the discussion was about tactical questions.

"We also explained what we, as a club, wanted to do, the competitions they will have to play, the competition they will have and the ambition we have for them."

Nice's wealthy ownership also means Nice do not have to sell on their best players later, a fate often suffered by ambitious mid-table clubs aiming higher in their leagues.

Fournier said: "The project is the same. Today, the arrival of Ineos allows us to keep our best players. At one time, Amine Gouiri would have been sold, as would Kasper Dolberg or Kephren Thuram. The real difference today is in our ability to keep our best players to be competitive in the long term."

Fournier on Galtier's appointment

Galtier earned plaudits from across Europe after leading unfancied Lille to Ligue 1 glory last season, but just two days after lifting the trophy he announced his decision to leave the club.

Nice managed to convince him to embark on a new challenge with the backing of their Ineos ownership group chaired by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, tying him down to a three-year contract.

Fournier confirmed Galtier had been on the club's radar long before his title triumph with Lille as they sought to appoint a coach capable of taking their ambitious project to the next level.

"We had identified him, and I'd like to say convinced him, before he became French champion," he said. "Even without winning the Ligue 1, he would have been at OGC Nice.

"The choice of coach is also a question of timing and we were wrong to bring in Claude Puel and then Lucien Favre.

"The arrival of Christophe Galtier came at the right time in relation to his profile and where the club is at."

Pressed on his relationship with Galtier, Fournier replied: "We've known each other for 20 years and he and I have been working together for several years.

"With Christophe, it's a bit special because we've always had a relationship and a bond, so without me telling him about it, he knew about the project because it was part of our friendly discussions."

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