SPIRO: Mature Thauvin silencing critics

Ligue 1 Conforama > Spiro Blog

By M. Spiro

Florian Thauvin's scintillating performances have taken Marseille up to second. Matthew Spiro believes the much-maligned Frenchman has matured and deserves more credit than he gets.

There are many reasons for Marseille's upturn: Rudi Garcia's decision to abandon a 4-3-3 that was leaving the defence exposed in order to instil a more solid 4-2-3-1 is one of them. The subsequent emergence of the physically imposing midfield duo of André-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Luiz Gustavo is another. That certain summer signings - Adil Rami and Jordan Amavi especially - have settled well and are now impressing is also significant.


Yet the veritable driving force behind OM's run of ten games without defeat has been the consistently excellent Florian Thauvin. The 24-year-old has contributed five goals and three assists in his last six games - including the strike that very nearly accounted for PSG. Many of his goals have been absolute beauties.

Overall he has seven goals and six assists in Ligue 1 this term. Compare that with Kylian Mbappé, who has four goals and three assists (both players netted 15 goals last term, Thauvin made nine assists, Mbappé eight) and you wonder why the Marseille man isn't getting nearly as much praise from the French media.


In recent times, OM's French international has tended to get overlooked. Yes, he has acted foolishly in the past. Signing for Lille, in 2013, only to change his mind and force through a transfer to Marseille, was especially poor. Turning up for Newcastle games in a tuxedo despite being new and unproven in England was unwise, unnecessary and unhelpful.

But Thauvin has matured and he deserves immense credit for picking his career back up in the last two years, establishing himself as Marseille hero, and forcing his way in to the France squad.

Thauvin failed in Newcastle. Few would argue with that. But looking back, he made only three Premier League starts. It's never easy for a young foreign player to adapt to the English game, and Thauvin probably didn't help himself by behaving like a star when his performances didn't warrant it. Ultimately, though, he wasn't given a chance; and right now the decision to offload the skilful left-footer six months after he had arrived is looking very much like Newcastle's loss.


Upon his return to the Vélodrome, Thauvin was mainly laughed at when announced his intention to become "the Paolo Maldini of Marseille". Today that claim doesn't sound quite so silly. Not only have we seen Thauvin performing well on a consistent basis in that time, fighting for the team as well as creating and scoring, but he has also cut out the off-field nonsense.

These days Thauvin makes headlines only for his on-field performances. Indeed, given just how good he has been of late, he probably deserves more positive headlines than he is actually getting. Should he keep his form up until the end of the season, qualifying Marseille for the Champions League, and then play a role for Les Bleus in Russia, the world of football may actually be forced to sit up and acknowledge something that has become apparent for a while now: Florian Thauvin is indeed a very good footballer.


>> FEATURE PREVIEW: Can Marseille maintain momentum?

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