OGC Nice right-back Youcef Atal was on the radar of Tottenham Hotspur all summer, with the club not relenting until a move fell through on transfer deadline day.
The Algeria international has remained with the Ligue 1 outfit, but has a huge future ahead of him.
Nice aren’t planning on letting him go anytime soon, though, and the club’s President Jean-Pierre Rivère has told suitors Atal won’t be sold in January or next summer.
He claims the youngster will only be sold to the bigwigs, and not to clubs like Newcastle United.
While the Toons were linked with a couple of Ligue 1 players during the summer and even brought in Allan Saint-Maximin from Nice, the Algerian was never on their radar.
Rivère was only using Newcastle as an example of the type of clubs he doesn’t expect Nice’s best assets to get sold to, but his comments are nonetheless a thinly-veiled dig.
“Atal will not leave this winter. And I will even tell you, it is not anticipated that he will leave next summer. Our aim is to bring in talented youngsters, grow them, improve them,” the Nice President told RMC Sport (via GFFN).
“And without lacking respect for anyone, it is not to then sell them to Newcastle or clubs like that, no, we keep them with us.
“Aside from that, if one day clubs like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich come, then it will be difficult to keep them. But aim is not to be adopting a policy of trading players around.”
In August, Newcastle secured Saint-Maximin’s services from Nice for £16.5 million, and given the Frenchman’s huge potential, it comes as a surprise that Rivère sees Saint James Park as a place not meant for potential world-beaters.
Sentiments apart, the Nice President understands the fact that a club perennially struggling with staying up in the top-flight can’t be considered a massive club, and his comments just go a long way to show how little Newcastle have become in the eyes of many.