Marseille

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West Ham: Chicharito plus $45M to Marseille for World Cup winner?

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Florian Thauvin left the Premier League a transfer bust, and may be returning for a lot more money as a World Cup champion.

Thauvin, 26, is being linked with a move to West Ham United for $45 million and the services of Mexican national team star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

[ MORE: Lukaku latest ]

Newcastle boss Steve McClaren couldn’t coax a single goal out of Thauvin in 2015-16, and he was quickly back at Marseille.

He then scored 15, 26, and 15 goals over the next three seasons, breaking into the French national team and playing a single minute in France’s World Cup victory. Here’s the thing, though: you can’t prove they would’ve won it without that minute.

Hernandez has scored 15 Premier League goals in the two seasons since he arrived from a Bundesliga run with Bayer Leverkusen. He’s earned just two of his 108 caps since the 2018 World Cup, scoring against Paraguay after a sub’s turn versus Chile in March 2019.

Good deal for the Irons? Marseille probably likes what it sees from its end.

Marseille hires Andre Villas-Boas as coach

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MARSEILLE, France (AP) French club Marseille has hired Andre Villas-Boas as coach, hoping he can turn the former European champion into a contender again.

The 1993 European Cup-winning club, which is owned by former Los Angeles Dodger owner Frank McCourt, says Villas-Boas has signed a two-year contract.

The 41-year-old Portuguese previously coached Chelsea, Tottenham, Zenit St. Petersburg and Shanghai SIPG.

Villas-Boas takes over a team which last won the French league in 2010. A fifth-place finish this season meant Marseille failed to qualify for European competitions.

Marseille was the Europa League runner-up a year ago but failed to advance from the group stage this season under coach Rudi Garcia.

Marseille’s ‘Champions Project’ in tatters

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PARIS (AP) Ridiculous Project.

Arrogant Project.

Fiasco Project.

Deficient Project.

Defeat Project.

These were some of the slogans displayed by Marseille fans last weekend at Stade Velodrome, mocking the “Champions Project” plan of American owner Frank McCourt, who aimed to return the club back to the summit of French soccer and among the European elite.

[ MORE: Sarri’s job in jeopardy? ]

Instead, in front of those poster-holding fans, former European champion Marseille was humiliated by Lyon 3-0 at home.

Ahead of the trip to Toulouse on Saturday, Marseille is seven points behind fourth-placed Saint-Etienne. With only two rounds left in Ligue 1, it means the club won’t even qualify for the Europa League.

Two and a half years after McCourt took over, the southern side has not lived up to expectations, and coach Rudi Garcia’s future is hanging in the balance after he failed to find the right balance in a squad featuring some brilliant individuals.

Marseille, which made it to the 2018 Europa League final but earned only one point in the group stage this season, has 13 defeats in 36 matches in the French league, has conceded 50 goals – its worst total in more than 30 years – and lost all of its matchups against the top three teams.

Constant tinkering with the lineup – Garcia fielded 41 different starting XIs in 44 matches in all competitions – to find a winning combo contributed to Marseille going backward, in sharp contrast to the club’s motto of “Straight to Goal.”

“There is no point looking for excuses,” World Cup winner Florian Thauvin said last month after a loss in Bordeaux. “We should stop fooling ourselves. We did not make a good season. And even if we qualified for the Champions League, what could we achieve? Every year it’s the same thing. We don’t win the games we need, we make too many mistakes.”

Marseille Ultras supporters, who play a major role in the running of the club, have had enough, too, and are asking for Garcia’s firing. They are also unhappy with club president Jacques Henri Eyraud, who appointed the coach when McCourt, the former Los Angeles Dodgers owner, launched his project of making Marseille great again, then extended Garcia’s deal to 2021.

“It’s one of the most difficult seasons of my career,” says Garcia, who seems under no illusion his time is up at the club. “But it’s part of my experience, and I’m sure I will use it in the future.”

Upon arrival at the buoyant Mediterranean city, McCourt pledged to revive Marseille by investing 200 million euros ($210 million) over four years. Large amounts of cash have been spent on Mario Balotelli, Valere Germain, and Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo. Marseille’s squad also features Lucas Ocampos, Kevin Strootman, Dimitri Payet, and Florian Thauvin, but Garcia has failed to make them gel as a team.

Thauvin has appeared unconcerned in recent weeks, and has not scored in the league in more than two months. He has repeatedly said his main goal in club football is to play the Champions League and appears bound for a transfer this summer.

Balotelli is not expected to stay either, but Marseille could struggle to find credible replacements as it remains closely monitored by UEFA in regard to financial fair play rules, and might not be allowed to spend as much as it wants.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Marseille president proposes video-game like rule changes

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If he’s serious, Marseille’s club president could be proposing a rule change that would drastically alter the way soccer is played.

Speaking at a summit in France for start-up companies, Jacques-Henri Eyraud stated his support for allowing goals scored from shots fired outside of the box to count for two goals, instead of one. It would be similar to how in basketball, a ball shot from outside the arc is worth three points instead of two. Of course, when that rule came into existence in the NBA in the late 1970s, it completely revolutionized the game.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Eyraud compared the rule change to the ultra-popular FIFA video game, saying if it could happen in the video game, why not in real life (note: it’s unclear whether this is actually possible in FIFA, but Eyraud could have been speaking in hypotheticals).

“FIFA (the video game) is one of my competitors,” Eyraud said. “Fortnite is one of my competitors in the digital world. Football is extraordinarily conservative, it has to evolve. “Why does (the video game) now propose that a goal put outside of the box, is worth two points? Why could not that be the case in real life?”

While soccer is still the world’s most popular game, it’s true that video games in general – and the rising cost of tickets in certain countries – are having an impact on getting fans into the stadium. With the ease and joy of playing soccer in a video game, some people could be convinced to stay inside on their couch and enjoy the game from home instead of going out to the stadium.

It may just be a crazy idea or a marketing ploy, but it’s fun to think about how that rule change could revolutionize soccer. It would certainly have made players such as David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, as well as free kick experts like Beckham, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo all the more valuable. Plus, one free kick late in the match, with a team trailing 1-0, could lead to a dramatic 2-1 victory with one kick.

It probably won’t happen – though it would be cool to toggle that on in the FIFA video game – but it’s a fun idea to think about.

LA Galaxy hopes to reunite Rami with Zlatan, Dos Santos

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The LA Galaxy hopes to convince a World Cup winner to trade Marseille, France, for Carson, California.

Adil Rami, 33, may be rejoining former teammates Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan) and Jonathan Dos Santos (Valencia) in LA.

[ MORE: Mourinho to Real? ]

Rami has a deal with Marseille through 2022, but France Football report says the Galaxy is hoping to land him between July and August this summer.

Rami is 36-times capped by France, scoring a goal against Iceland in 2012. He was a regular starter in two EURO tournaments, but did not see the field as a member of the 2018 World Cup-winning squad.

Another person will have some L.A. experience to share with Rami, as the defender is said to be dating actress Pamela Anderson.