Sofiane Diop has joined OGC Nice from AS Monaco for a reported €20m fee after making over 100 appearances during a four-year spell at the Principality club.
Diop was a mainstay in Niko Kovac’s Monaco side, but he saw his game time significantly reduced when Philippe Clement arrived as manager. In Tuesday’s press conference, the Monaco manager revealed that it was the player’s desire, rather than that of the club, to leave.
“First of all, it wasn’t our idea to let Sofiane leave. It was his choice. He contacted me yesterday and we had a good conversation. He wants the best for Monaco and I want the best for him. He has chosen to leave, to take another path. We have to respect that,” said the Belgian coach.
Diop, who scored 17 times for Monaco in 105 appearances after joining from Rennes wrote a goodbye message to Monaco on his Twitter account: “After four beautiful years, during which I grew as a footballer, but especially as a man, it is time for me to take on another challenge and to say goodbye to you,” Diop began.
He continued, “I want to thank AS Monaco for having given me the opportunity to discover the professional world and for allowing me to progress at the highest level. I also want to thank my family and those close to me for their daily support. Finally, thank you to you, the Monaco fans, for your love and confidence for all those years.”
Diop joins local rivals Nice, for a fee reported to be around €20m, according to Nice-Matin. He could get the chance to face his former side this weekend with Clement’s men making the short trip to the Allianz Riviera on Sunday.
An internal replacement
As things stand, Monaco look unlikely to dip back into the transfer market in order to replace Diop. The club have already signed forwards Breel Embolo and Takumi Minamino this summer, whilst in order to fill the void left by Diop, they are looking to the academy.
Maghnes Akliouche, who broke into the first team last season, and who featured against PSG last weekend, looks set to earn more game time. Speaking on Tuesday, Clement said, “When I see his evolution, Maghnes has shown that he can take the role that Sofiane occupied.”
Monaco trimmed their squad further ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Another forward, in the shape of Anthony Musaba, has left to join Ligue 2 side FC Metz on a one-year loan deal. The loan includes an option for Metz to purchase the Dutch youth international. Musaba has only made one appearance for Monaco, and since his arrival he has spent loan spells at SC Heerenveen and satellite club Cercle Brugge.
Photo by Monaco Life