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Reports: Vieira headed to France?

Blues skipper linked to managerial opening in Ligue 1

MLS: New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s how we know Patrick Vieira’s doing a good job: his name’s popping up in connection with managerial vacancies in Europe.

According to both talksport and French outlet RMC, French Ligue 1 stalwarts AS St. Etienne are interested in Vieira being their manager next season. The club’s chairmen, Bernard Caiazzo and Roland Romeyer, are looking for a replacement for Christophe Galtier. The 50-year-old Galtier’s managed ASSE since 2009, but he and the club parted ways after the conclusion of the season.

The club finished last season in eighth place, 17 points out of a European competition spot. That said — St. Etienne is not a run-of-the-mill club in France. They’re arguably the most historically successful club in French soccer history. St. Etienne have won ten Ligue 1 titles, six Coupe de France titles, a Coupe de la Ligue title and five Trophée des Champions (that would be the French Super Cup, the equivalent of the English Community Shield).

However, most of that success came nearly 50 years ago, during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Their last Ligue 1 title win was in the 1980-81 season. More recently, they’ve spent time in the French second division, and have hovered around mid-table. Last season, they qualified for the Europa League, but were knocked out in the round of 32 by eventual winners Manchester United.

According to RMC, the chairmen are split on which direction to go, with money being the chief point of division. Caiazzo is reputedly more interested in bringing a “big name” to manage ASSE, thinking that it’ll draw interest and help build the team, while Romeyer is leaning more towards hiring a lesser-known manager, and thus leaving more money available for transfers.

As a French footballing legend, Vieira fits the “big name” bill. Vieira came up in the youth systems of FC Drouais, FC Trappes, and Tours, before debuting professionally with Cannes in 1994, where he had 49 appearances.

How much validity is there to this? Should I worry about Vieira leaving?

Never say never? Look, I’d love for Vieira to stay here for a long time. But two things mediate against that -- as much as New York City might be a destination, MLS isn’t a ‘destination league’. At least, not yet.

That, and Patrick Vieira’s young. Those two things indicate that, if the right offer comes along, Vieira might be packing his bags for Europe.

But is St. Etienne that offer? Probably not. Like I noted above, their last league title came nearly 40 years ago. Their highest finish came in 2013-14, when they finished fourth. It’s unlikely that they’ll break the stranglehold that Paris-St. Germain — and to a lesser degree, Olympique Lyonnais and AS Monaco — have on Ligue 1.

It’s more likely that given his history in England, Vieira would leave NYCFC for a Premier League team. Yes, rumor has it that he’s Pep Guardiola’s long-term replacement at Manchester City, but there’s nothing ruling out him managing a mid-table Premier League team in the meantime.

I expect Vieira to leave New York City at some point. I don’t think he’s leaving now, though.