Rising Star: Florian Thauvin
Speaking exclusively with beIN Sport, Bastia sensation Florian Thauvin explained why he opted to join Lille rather than EPL heavyweights who were circling for his signature.
When Florian Thauvin ran out at the Parc des Princes last weekend he was anything but overawed by PSG's collection of stars. In fact the young Bastia winger nearly stole the occasion, showcasing the talent that attracted the interest of Premier League clubs Arsenal and Newcastle during the January window.
'Happy about their interest'
"They're very big clubs and what's more the Premier League is a really big league, so I was really happy about their interest," he said modestly. "It just makes me even more determined to get to the top."
Instead of going to England, Thauvin opted to join Lille in a €3.5m deal. His decision has surprised a few - not least because Lille are languishing in mid-table - but the French youth international believes he'll flourish under Rudi Garcia.
"I thought about it with my agents. We've always put football first, and I thought the offer I got from Lille was the most appealing," he revealed. "Even if they're not doing so well this season, I'm convinced they'll get their focus back and have a really good season next season."
Before heading north, however, the 20-year-old will be able to enjoy the Corsican sunshine for another five months after agreeing to stay at Bastia on loan until the end of the season.
Thauvin's decision to stay on is great news for coach Frédéric Hantz, who has been richly rewarded for showing faith in the playmaker this term.
The dynamic number 17 turned in a match-winning performance against Bordeaux in Week 10, scoring his first two goals in the top flight and cementing his place in the starting lineup.
First things first
"The club wanted me to stay but I wanted to stay as well, because I started the season with Bastia," he explained. "Our objective in the summer was to keep the club in the top flight, so I want to make sure we finish the job off."
Thauvin joined Bastia from Grenoble in 2011, and started four matches last season as the Corsicans clinched their second successive promotion.
Now back in the top tier after an 8-year absence, the mood in the club is understandably buoyant, a factor Thauvin feels has helped him as finds his feet at the highest level.
Right at home
"The club have come up from the third tier in a short space of time, so we have a really close-knit group of players. That's the strength of the team but it's also something that helped me to settle in."
Currently 14th, Bastia are only 3 points above the relegation zone, but Thauvin is hoping more goals like the one he scored against Reims in January will help keep them up.
"The staff and the board showed faith in me when I was a kid, so I feel I owe them something. That's why I'll give my all until the end of the season."
With Thauvin running at defenders and rifling in more thunderous shots, there is every chance Bastia will survive.