Mandanda makes Marseille return
Olympique de Marseille have announced that former club captain and stalwart 'keeper Steve Mandanda has returned to the club on a three-year deal just one season after leaving the southern giants for EPL side Crystal Palace.
New Marseille owner Frank McCourt's 'Champions Project' got a shot in the arm on Wednesday as prodigal son Steve Mandanda returned to the club on a three-year deal on Wednesday.
Mandanda, 32, spent nine seasons at the Stade Vélodrome before trying out a new adventure with Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016, but is now eager to be a part of the exciting new project under coach Rudi Garcia.
"When contact was first made, it was clear to me that I should return," said the France 'keeper, who has 334 OM appearances, one Ligue 1 title, three Coupes de la Ligue and two Trophées des Champions - and four UNFP Ligue 1 'Keeper of the Year trophies - to his name. "You often think about trying new things, and I did that. I pretty quickly got the chance to return, and I'm really happy because there is a well-organised and ambitious project in place at a club that I know like the back of my hand. I didn't have to think it over for long."
Negotiations went on between the clubs went for weeks, Mandanda still having two years to run on his deal, but his desire to return after a mixed season got the deal done.
"In hindsight, I can say that my season in England was an enriching experience. It was frustrating, as I got seriously injured for the first time in my career," he explained. "You learn from every situation. I was never frozen out of the squad but it still takes character not to crack and lose the plot. Either you give up or you work hard to be ready when the call comes, and I took the second option. Some people said I was finished but I'm determined to achieve something great, just as this club is determined to do something great. I want to win titles nd play as many matches as possible."
'Good relationship' with Pelé
However, Mandanda may not be able to walk straight back into the team as his replacement Yohann Pelé had an excellent campaign in his absence.
"I watched almost all of OM's matches last season, and Yohann had an excellent campaign. The team's fifth-placed finish owes plenty to him," said Mandanda, who will wear his favoured number 30 jersey once again. "We have run into each other, but we didn't discuss much. We have a good relationship and we know each other well. We'll have a chance to talk a fair bit once we're on our training camp. I know it will go well. We’re two smart lads who like and respect each other."