Wilfried Bony: Ivory Coast striker signs for NEC Nijmegen

3 months ago 3138
Wilfried Bony signs for NEC NijmegenWilfried Bony (left) won the most recent of his 56 caps for Ivory Coast in July 2019

Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony is back in football after more than a year without a club.

The ex-Manchester City and Swansea City player has signed for Dutch Eredivisie side NEC Nijmegen.

The 33-year-old left Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad in November 2020, and has been training in Wales with League Two side Newport County since then.

Bony had huge success when he last played in the Eredivisie, nearly 10 years ago.

He was top scorer in the league in 2012-13 with 31 goals for Vitesse Arnhem.

But his association with Arnhem, NEC's great rivals, means not everyone has welcomed his arrival back in the Dutch top flight.

Angry fans attached banners to the club's stadium declaring their opposition to the move, with two messages declaring 'Bony NEVER in our colours' and 'Bony NOT welcome'.

However, the striker - who has not played for Ivory Coast since July 2019 - shrugged off the opposition in an interview released by his new club.

Wilfried Bony in action for Ivory CoastBony missed a penalty in Ivory Coast's quarter-final shoot-out defeat by Algeria at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations

"It's normal, I expect that," he said after signing a deal until the end of the season.

"This is part of football. I am coming here to do what I love most, to play football. Most important, I want them to support the team."

He added he was aware of the sensitivity of the move for some and wanted to be given a chance to prove himself to NEC supporters.

Bony's success in the Eredivisie saw him move to Swansea City for £12 million in 2013, and he scored 34 goals in 70 appearances for the Welsh club.

He moved on to Manchester City in January 2015 in a deal worth up to £28 million, but the Ivorian made a limited impact at Etihad Stadium and went on loan to Stoke City before returning to Swansea in 2017.

His second stint with the Swans was less successful and he subsequently played in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, until he ended his contract with Al Ittihad in November 2020.

Bony thanks Newport

Bony admitted he was not yet ready to play a full 90 minutes, having been out of the game for more than a year.

But he said he was in good shape after training with Newport County, the League Two side near his home in Wales.

"I want to thank them," he told NEC's website.

"It was very important for me to keep fit until the moment I could play again. For the time being I'm not able to play 90 minutes but I will be ready very soon."

NEC technical director Ted van Leeuwen was involved in bringing Bony to Vitesse in 2011 and says Bony had "unfinished business" in the Netherlands.

He added Bony appeared to be "remarkably fit" and "highly motivated".

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