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Patrick Vieira was offered a contract to stay with New York City FC

Patrick Vieira declined a contract offer from New York City FC for a chance to be a first team manager in Europe. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Patrick Vieira could have remained head coach of New York City FC, according to Sporting Director Claudio Reyna, who said the club had a strong desire to retain its former coach.

“We wanted Patrick to stay and we offered him a contract,” Reyna said Friday during an interview with WADO commentator Roberto Abramowitz. “The contract was there for him and all of his assistants to sign.”

Reyna indicated the club wanted to balance its aspiration to hold on to Vieira and providing support if a strong European opportunity emerged for him. After a month of speculation, Vieira elected to accept the manager’s job in France’s Ligue 1 with OGC Nice. Assistants Christian Lattanzio, Kristian Wilson and Matt Cooke all followed Vieira to the Cote d’Azur.

“It was very clear he always wanted to go to Europe and this was an opportunity,” Reyna said. “There was interest a little bit last year. It’s just easier in summer because he can put something together from the beginning.”

Vieira arrived in New York in 2016 with no first-team managerial experience. The World Cup champion with France in 1998 guided Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad for two seasons before he was hired by NYCFC to replace Jason Kreis.

Under Vieira, New York City attained a clear identity while surging in the MLS rankings after a difficult 2015 expansion season.  City finished fourth overall in the 2016 regular season and second to eventual MLS Cup champion Toronto FC in 2017.

“We’re happy because he came here and did a great job,” Reyna said. “He had a great chance to go to a very good league, with a young team and make that jump to Europe.”

Vieira’s replacement, Domènec Torrent, has steered NYCFC to four wins in five matches. The team now shares the pole position in MLS with Atlanta United – each with identical 12-4-4 records and 40 points.

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