Florian Thauvin leading Marseille Champions League chase
Florian Thauvin will be remembered by most Premier League fans, particularly those in the north-east, as being a bit of a flop. The French international looks to have turned his career around. He is now playing his best football with Olympique de Marseille.
Thauvin began his professional career with Grenoble before moving to Bastia in 2011. In Corsica his talents really came to light. He helped Bastia win promotion from Ligue 2. That attracted Lille's attention. LOSC bought him in January 2013. He would never play for Les Dogues. They loaned him back to Bastia 2012/13's second half. With I Turchini he would win Ligue 1's Young Player of the Year. Then LOSC sold him to Marseille just before 2013's summer transfer window closed.
Thauvin spent two years with Marseille, mostly on the opposite wing from Dmitri Payet. Both left for English clubs in 2015. Payet made a huge impact at West Ham United, first with his stellar play, then his refusal to play at all. Thauvin wasn't able to perform to standards at Newcastle United after Toon had spent £15 million on the wide man. In total he made 16 appearances in all competitions. Most came from the bench. He was only able to find the back of the net once throughout his time at St James Park.
Asked what went wrong in England, Thauvin suggested he made the move too early, that he perhaps wasn't sufficiently mature to deal with the increased physicality required from a Premier League player. Others might posit Newcastle wasn't a great club for him. The Magpies were in a bit of a mess on and off the pitch, eventually relegated in 2016.
While Newcastle were struggling in the Premier League in January 2016, Thauvin was punted out on loan to Marseille. It took a little time for the player to recover from what had been a confidence-sapping spell in England. He did enough to ensure Marseille were interested in keeping him. Another loan deal was agreed for the 2016/17 season.
In that campaign Thauvin displayed excellent form for Marseille. OM finished fifth in Ligue 1. He played every league game, starting 36, contributing 15 goals and eight assists. That form convinced the Olympians to splash out £10 million to bring the player into the club permanently. He has proven himself worth every penny and more.
Marseille sit second now, in the mix with Monaco and Lyon for the right to lick Paris Saint-Germain's expensive boots. Thauvin's form is a major reason for the side's success. He has already scored 13 goals and set up another 10 in 24 Ligue 1 appearances.
There can be no doubt Thauvin is a different player than the one who went to Newcastle as a 22-year-old. Not only has he matured, he has also changed positionally. In those early days he mostly featured on the left. Now he is an inverted right winger who cuts inside onto his preferred left foot.
For now Thauvin remains at Marseille. The club is more than happy. Money talks in modern football, however. Already, a couple suitors have been mentioned. Atletico Madrid. Bayern Munich.
It's by no means certain the player will move. He is ideally placed to make an impact now. At 25 he is approaching his best years. If he can maintain his current form, Florian Thauvin will hold his own in any league in the world.