Patrick Vieira leaves NYCFC ahead of move to take over Nice
Patrick Vieira stepped down as coach of MLS club New York City FC on Sunday ahead of his appointment as the new manager of Ligue 1's Nice.
In an unusual move, the news was first announced not by either club but on the website of Manchester City, which is in the same ownership group as NYCFC. Man City later unpublished the page with the announcement.
Reports in France last week said Vieira had agreed to a three-year contract, and Vieira confirmed his departure on Sunday night.
"I would like to thank City Football Group and New York City FC for the opportunity to have coached this tremendous football club," he said in a statement on Man City's website. "Leaving New York is an incredibly difficult decision for me and for my family and one that has not been taken lightly.
"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."
A former star at Arsenal, Vieira took over NYCFC in its second season in MLS in 2016 and in both seasons since has led the team to second-place Eastern Conference finishes, only to lose at the first hurdle in the playoffs. He leaves the MLS club in second place in the East, two points behind Atlanta United.
He hinted last week that Saturday's game against Atlanta could be his last in charge, but declined to take questions about his future after the 1-1 draw, though striker David Villa could be heard telling his coach "thank you for everything" as they embraced after the final whistle.
"Having the opportunity to be a head coach in New York is something many dream of," Vieira said. "Our incredibly passionate fans have made this one of the most special experiences I've had in football. Thank you to each and every one of you that stands by the team day in and day out."
Vieira will take three assistants with him to Nice -- Christian Lattanzio, Kristian Wilson, and Matt Cook -- all of whom previously worked for him with Manchester City's youth squad.
Nice finished eighth in the French top flight but are expected to lose Mario Balotelli, who scored 18 league goals last season.
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.