Marseille

Payet slams former coach Garcia

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Dmitri Payet has spiced up the latest edition of the Choc des Olympiques with some choice comments for former Marseille coach Rudi Garcia.

Garcia coached Marseille for three seasons until the end of May, 2019. However, instead of staying through the end of his contract – which reportedly was extended through the 2021 season – Garcia decided to leave and eventually landed at Lyon, which sacked former Arsenal defender Sylvinho after a poor start to the season. Payet, who was never one in England to hold his tongue, revealed he was surprised to see Garcia join Lyon, especially because he had spoken passionately before about Lyon when it was just an opponent.

“Yes. Already, it’s weird to see him in the opposite side,” Payet said at a press conference. “A few months ago (May 12) , we faced Lyon, and heard (Garcia’s) talk about Lyon players, Lyon fans, the Lyon president … I will not go into detail, because it is not the goal either, but I would not like him to talk about us like that. It’s odd that he postulates three months later for this club. But he did well, since he is there. We must not begin to put our feelings in a match like that, it could make us thwart. We have to put it in a corner of our head, use it to boost ourselves.”

Payet’s comments surely turn up the heat in this year’s first leg of the French Olympique Classico. Though there isn’t an intense rivalry between the clubs, Payet’s accusations could lead to the game having a higher importance. It would be ineresting too to see what Payet thought of some of his coaches in England.

It’s no secret that Payet didn’t get along with Garcia, and likely was glad to see him go at the end of he season.

“I do not know how to say,” Payet said. “There were times when it was rather hot, the communication did not pass, – I speak of my personal case. There were headaches, I have a strong character, it did not help either. We did not separate on good terms.”

All eyes will be on Payet this Sunday to see if he has anything else to say to Garcia, or whether it’s gone in his mind now.

Referee stops Ligue 1 game for removal of homophobic banners

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For the third time in two weeks, a high-level league game was temporarily stopped due to homophobic abuse occurring inside the stadium.

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Wednesday’s Ligue 1 game between home side Nice and visitors Marseille was stopped by referee Clement Turpin in the 28th minute for the removal of homophobic banners displayed by Nice’s fans, along with reports of homophobic chanting. The stoppage lasted 10 minutes.

According to writer and broadcaster Tom Williams, the banner and/or chants were aimed at British chemical company INEOS, the club’s new owners led by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe who completed their purchase of Nice on Monday.

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It’s the second such (high-level) incident to have occurred in France after French referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped a Ligue 2 game between Nancy and Le Mans due to homophobic chanting, and the second such instance this week after Brazilian referee Anderson Daronco stopped the first-division game between Vasco da Gama and Sao Paulo for homophobic chanting.

French football officials have presumably made it abundantly clear to the country’s referees that eradicating homophobic abuse — along with racist abuse, perhaps — is a high priority. Mokhtari and Turpin wasted no time in halting their respective fixtures, which could prove the most effective method for putting an end to various types of abuse, at least inside stadiums.

Transfer Roundup: Benedetto, Cahill and more

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Outside of Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille might now have the best attacking trio in all of France.

Olympique Marseille on Monday announced the signing of Argentine striker Dario Benedetto on a four-year contract. The 29-year-old striker has had a long and storied career throughout the Americas. From his upbringing with small Argentine clubs like Arsenal di Sarandi, he made his first big move moving to Northern Mexico to play for Club Tijuana.

Benedetto was an instant sensation, scoring a hat-trick in his first game and eventually earning the interest of Mexican giant Club America. While Benedetto never truly lived up to his potential in Mexico City, he earned a move to Boca Juniors, where he won three Superliga titles and led Boca to the Copa Libertadores final against rivals River Plate.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

He also scored 21 goals in his first season, though his hard-as-nails mentality (which matches his tattoos) has earned him a fair share of injuries. That being said, playing up top in Marseille in-between former West Ham winger Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin could prove to result in double-digit goals for the Argentine. He’s also playing for Andre Villas-Boas, a coach with plenty of experience in England and abroad. It will be up to Villas-Boas to get the best out of Benedetto in Ligue 1 this year. Unfortunately for Benedetto, at least this year, he won’t be playing in Europe. Marseille’s fifth-place finish, coupled with Rennes and Strausbourg winning the cup competitions, meant Marseille missed out on even the Europa League.

Here are more transfer stories from around Europe and the Premier League:


Report: Cahill signs with Crystal Palace

For the first time since 2012, Gary Cahill has a new home. Luckily for Cahill, he didn’t have to move very far to find his new club.

According to the BBC, Cahill has signed a contract with Crystal Palace, after London neighbors Chelsea released Cahill at the end of the 2018-2019 season. The 33-year-old centerback was a standout starter for Chelsea until Maurizio Sarri arrived at Stamford Bridge. Cahill, older and unable to keep up with Sarri’s high-pressing style to play a high line defensively, only made two Premier League appearances and eight across all competitions for Chelsea last season.

With Crystal Palace, Cahill could potentially step into a starting role alongside either James Tompkins, Scott Dann, or Martin Kelly. Or, he could be available for a late-game insertion to hold onto a tight lead as Crystal Palace hunts to get over the 40-point mark yet again.

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.

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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.