The rejuvenated heroics of Mario Balotelli saw the Italian striker score six goals in his first six Ligue 1 matches for Nice, propelling the club to the top of the table over the likes of Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.
When Balotelli went down injured towards the end of November, it looked as though a spell on the sidelines would disrupt the form of France’s hottest team. However, after 16 match days in the division, Nice still sit atop the table having only been defeated once. They have a three-point lead over Monaco and a miraculous four-point advantage over PSG.
Without the goals of Balotelli, young French attacker Alassane Plea has been an absolute revelation. October’s Ligue 1 Player of the Month, Plea had flown under the radar in France over the last few years. Over the course of the previous three years, Plea had managed 12 goals in 67 league matches. This year, he’s already scored nine goals in 16 games for Nice.
— Sur la Barre (@surlabarre) December 4, 2016
The 23-year-old has represented France at youth levels, but the call for his inclusion in the senior squad is growing harder to ignore. Plea is able to play on the wing and at the center of attack, and his form has made the absence of Balotelli a non factor for his club.
Alassane Plea has now scored 6 goals in his last 7 Ligue 1 games for Nice.No Balotelli? No problem. pic.twitter.com/R6x6fpOrK3
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 4, 2016
For a player that cost Nice only €500,000 when he transferred from Lyon, Plea is rapidly becoming one of the best young attacking talents in Europe.