Claudio Ranieri returned to football last week as he was announced as FC Nantes manager; although he did have to wait for it. The French FA have a ruling in place stating that a club can’t appoint a manager of 65 or over. Ranieri was eventually unveiled as manager after the Ligue 1 club appealed this which resulted FFF waiving the rule.
The Italian takes charge from Sergio Conceição, who made Nantes a formidable force in France for the six months he was in charge before leaving for Porto. Taking the club from relegation, the Portuguese coach took them to seventh in the league, playing aggressive and attacking football. Now, it’s time for Ranieri to continue Nantes’ resurgence in French football.
“Going from 19th to 7th is magnificent. I want to continue in this direction,” said Ranieri at his unveiling (translated via Get French Football News). “I am very happy to be here. I know Nantes from football. I want to do great things here. I know the fans here, they are fantastic.
“I came to the Beaujoire when I was in charge of AS Monaco. The atmosphere was incredible… The infrastructure is very good. I am very happy. The pitch is fantastic as well. The transfer window? I only arrived yesterday, each thing in its own time.”
Of course, the ‘tinkerman’ has managed several great clubs such as Chelsea, Valencia, AS Monaco & Juventus, but the Italian tactician will now be known for his achievements at Leicester City, where he won the Premier League in impressive fashion.
Can he do with Nantes what he did at Leicester?
Under Conceição, Nantes played a 4-4-2 formation, whilst it’s likely that Ranieri will adopt a similar style of play to that at Leicester City – again, a 4-4-2. Across Europe, various clubs have toyed with three at the back – trying to recreate Johan Cruyff’s exquisite ideologies, whilst Ranieri likes to keep things basic.
Using a 4-4-2 formation can offer a balanced approach to football. Losing? Push your wide players further up and play a 4-2-4. Winning? Go defensive and play a 4-1-4-1. With Claudio ‘tinkerman’ Ranieri, there’s no doubt we’re going to see plenty of systems implemented in this Nantes squad, whilst he will make use of each and every player made available to him, be it from the Nantes U19 squad to those returning from loan.
Players who can play a large role
It looks almost certain as though Amine Harit will be leaving the club. Although a key member of Nantes’ squad under Conceição, everyone has a price. The 20-year-old is set to join Schalke for €10 million, which will allow Ranieri to invest in areas that need improvement.
Whilst they’re likely to lose the young Frenchman, they do have Valentin Rongier, 22, who featured 31 times in the league last campaign. Emiliano Sala will play a key role going forward for Nantes, Ranieri will be hoping the Argentine can replicate his league form last season, where he scored on 12 occasions.
Even at 33, it’s important that the club keep hold of Belgian Guillaume Gillet, who has become a key figure for the Beaujoire outfit following his move from Anderlecht 18 months ago.
The French club have already completed the signing of Jawad El Yamiq for €800,000, according to France Football, whilst they have a plethora of promising youth players that Ranieri will no doubt make use of.
One of note is Batista Mendy who turns 18 in January, whilst the young central defender has already featured seven times for France U17s.
He’s already targeting his old players
No matter who secured the services of Ranieri, he was always going to be linked with former players of his at Leicester City. Since joining Nantes, the 65-year-old has been linked with Nampalys Mendy, whom the Italian brought to the King Power Stadium from OGC Nice last summer.
Despite just seven games in all competitions for Leicester City, the 25-year-old has since ruled out a move to Nantes, insisting that he would only sign for Bordeaux, who have also been linked.
Whatever does happen with Ranieri and Nantes this season, the Italian will be hoping he can continue the resurgence of this iconic French club who have won the league on eight occasions.