Youcef Atal: The Algerian is not for sale according to Nice coach Vieira

By Mohamed Fajah BarrieBBC Sport, Sierra Leone
Vieira and Atal
Patrick Vieira, coach of French club Nice, congratulates Algeria's Youcef Atal after his hat-trick against Guingamp

The coach of French club Nice, Patrick Vieira, says Youcef Atal is not for sale after the player became the first Algerian to score a hat-trick in Ligue 1 in 33 years.

Atal, who is a right-back but played in left midfield on Sunday, netted all three goals in Nice's 3-0 home win over Guingamp to also register the first hat-trick of his career.

The 22-year-old has now scored six goals in 25 league appearances so far this season, and is being linked with a move to other European clubs.

But Nice coach Vieira insists Atal is not for sale.

"We are not sellers. Youcef will be here next year," Vieira told the club's website.external-link

"Youcef is improving. He works a lot. If you look at his goals, you see the aggression he has to be in the right place to score.

"He is a positive character with good spirit. He was rewarded for his efforts. The team allowed him to express himself and to show his talent.

"We were good in possession and that allowed us to be dangerous. What Atal has over the others is his desire to get into the box.

"Youcef played in this position when he was younger, it gives us different options for this season and next. But yes, he will almost certainly move back to his position against Nantes," Vieira added.

Atal's hat-tick is the first for an Algerian in Ligue 1 since Chérif Oudjani scored three goals for Laval against Toulouse on 12 October 1985.

He joined Nice last summer from Belgian club Kortrijk after he had left Algerian side Paradou where he started his senior club career.

Atal made his first international appearance for Algeria against Guinea in June 2017 and has become a regular for the Desert Foxes.

Nice are seventh in Ligue 1 and are still challenging for a top-four finish in a bid to play in Europe next season.

Vieria and his players face a difficult task to achieve their goal - they are eight points adrift of Saint-Etienne who currently occupy fourth place with four more league games to go.

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