Nice are having a best-ever season in their Ligue Un title charge. But while Super Mario Balotelli wins the headlines, Jean Michaël Seri, has been sensational
Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappé might make all the headlines in France spear-heading title charges for PSG and Monaco respectively, however, the best-kept secret in the Ligue 1 this season has been OGC Nice midfielder Jean Michaël Seri. He is seen as the N’Golo Kanté of Nice, who left the French league when Seri had just arrived in France from Paços de Ferreira. And just like Kanté, Seri is a small, yet a strong and dynamic player.
Both also put a lot of energy in their game but where Kanté stands out at breaking down attacks, Seri excels at setting them up. The midfielder is a very accomplished passer of the ball and averages 2.3 key passes per game. It’s therefore no surprise that Seri is the Ligue 1 assists leader with nine killer passes.
Most clear-cut chances created in Europe's top 5 leagues this term:
🥇L. Messi – 19
🥈K. De Bruyne – 18
🥉Á. Di María – 16
Seri – 14 pic.twitter.com/TvVEUL5hm9
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 3, 2017
Seri is quite a versatile footballer as well, being able to both pull the strings from his original deep lying playmaker position as well as showcasing his great close control and ability to breeze past opponents into the box.
The Ivorian has already had a noteworthy journey, starting playing football at the Cyril Domoraud Center in his native Ivory Coast in 1999. “Football in Africa is special”, Seri said in an interview with Le Point, “to a certain age we were playing barefoot, but that meant we had more contact with the ball and therefore we got a better technique.”
Seri began his professional career in Ivory Coast with Africa Sports in 2009 before getting picked up by the country’s most successful team ASEC Mimosas just a year later. After two years at the club, Seri, at 21, would embark his career in Europe by joining FC Porto’s reserve side. It wasn’t before long that other sides started to take notice and tried to lure away Seri from the Portuguese heavyweights.
Current Southampton manager Claude Puel was impressed by Seri and decided to take the gamble on the player by urging his employers Nice to sign him. For roughly €1M, Nice got themselves a bargain. Due to his excellent displays this season, Seri has already been linked to Olympique Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and a reunion with Puel at Southampton.
Seri has downplayed a move away, saying “I feel good here and my family too, so I do not see why I’d go away. The club is making progress, so I’m fine”. A move away might become inevitable if Seri keeps developing like he has done for the past 18-months. For now, with Nice already qualified for the 2017/18 Champions League, it looks like Seri is in the right place, though.