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Mario Balotelli absent as Nice begin preseason training under Patrick Vieira

Patrick Vieira's reign at Nice got off to a rocky start after strikers Mario Balotelli and Alassane Plea failed to show up for the first day of preseason training Monday.

Balotelli scored 18 league goals last season, more than anyone else at the club, while Plea netted 16, and both have been linked with moves this summer, with sources telling ESPN FC four Premier League clubs are keen on Plea and Balotelli reportedly a target for rivals Marseille.

Vieira, who replaced Lucien Favre, took his first...

Tottenham among Premier League clubs who want Nice's Alassane Plea - sources

Tottenham are among four Premier League clubs chasing Nice striker Alassane Plea, sources close to the French club have told ESPN FC.

Tottenham, West Ham, Newcastle and Fulham have all expressed an interest in Plea and sources said two of the four clubs have tabled offers for the former France under-21 international.

Plea enjoyed a fantastic campaign for Nice last season, scoring 21 goals and providing six assists, bringing him to the attention of a number of clubs across Europe.

The 25-year-old...

Scouting Spotlight: Rodri, Alassane Plea, Thilo Kehrer

Atletico Madrid arranged a transfer for Rodri, their former youth product, at the end of the season.

Scouting Spotlight profiles players across Europe who have caught the eye. This week a midfielder returning to Atletico, a Nice forward entering a key stage of his career and a versatile Schalke centre-back.

Rodri -- Villarreal

Released from Atletico Madrid's youth setup in 2013 because of his lack of physicality, a growth spurt saw Rodri shoot up to an imposing 6-foot-3 within 18 months of his departure. After establishing himself at Villarreal, he has been lined up for a €20 million return...

Who were Africa's star performers around the world this weekend?

We review the weekend's footballing action across the world, and pick out our quintet of key African performers.

Victor Moses returned to the starting XI for Chelsea as they hosted Newcastle United this weekend, reminding Blues fans exactly what they'd been missing with an outstanding performance down the right flank.

The scores were tied at 1-1 when Moses made the first of two decisive contributions, playing in Alvaro Morata for the Spanish forward to give the hosts the lead in the 33rd minute.

15...

Alassane Plea inspires OGC Nice to Gladbach victory

Alassane Plea came off the bench to score one and contribute an assist as OGC Nice came from behind to beat Borussia Monchengladbach 2-1 in a friendly in Bavaria on Thursday.

The Franco-Malian attacker was one of the revelations of the Ligue 1 season last term as he adapted to a role leading the line - having previously been used almost exclusively as a right-sided wideman - and ended the campaign with 11 goals in 24 outings.

He notably found the net in a 2-2 draw away at Paris Saint-Germain, and...

Mario Balotelli claims of racial abuse backed by teammate Alassane Plea

Mario Balotelli has been backed by teammate Alassane Plea, who said he heard Bastia supporters racially abusing the Nice striker during Friday night's 1-1 draw.

On Saturday, Balotelli described the abuse he heard at the Armand Cesari stadium and complained that the French league had not acted swiftly.

And on Sunday, Plea -- Balotelli's strike partner -- told French football show Telefoot he had heard the abuse.

"Yes, I can confirm it. We heard it during the warmup [and] during the game as well,...