Hatem Ben Arfa could be handed his Girondins de Bordeaux debut against former employers Olympique de Marseille when Jean-Louis Gasset's side travel to the Orange Vélodrome on Saturday.
Olympique de Marseille - Girdondins de Bordeaux
- Kick-off at 20:00 GMT
Olympique Lyonnais academy graduate Ben Arfa won the treble of Ligue 1 Uber Eats, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions with Marseille in 2010 before leaving for Newcastle United with just shy of 100 appearances under his belt.
Ten years and six clubs in three countries later and the talented attacking midfielder is back in French football after his contract with Spanish outfit Real Valladolid expired. The 15-time France international had other offers but was keen to join up with Gasset.
'I like his philosophy'
"When I saw that the interested coach was Jean-Louis Gasset, I immediately wanted to work with him again," Ben Arfa explained of the 66-year-old, who was Laurent Blanc's assistant for les Bleus between 2010 and 2012. "I like his philosophy and how he is as a person and a coach. Bordeaux still feels like a historic club and this helped me decide.
"I really enjoy playing for his teams. He's someone who plays attacking football. I know him from the French national team and he always inspired me."
Watch: Highlights of Bordeaux's 3-0 win over Dijon
Bordeaux could use some inspiration in return. Prior to their 3-0 victory over Dijon FCO in the final game before the international break they had gone three games without a win, sliding from second to ninth in the table.
Les Girondins remain a place above Marseille in the table by virtue of their superior goal-difference, however, and have a clean bill of health heading into their Round 7 clash. Ben Arfa should be handed the No.10 role while Pablo, after overcoming a ruptured cruciate ligament, is expected to partner Laurent Koscielny at the back.
Cutting edge needed
Marseille have drawn each of their last three games - against LOSC, FC Metz and Lyon - 1-1. André Villas-Boas's 4-3-3 with a False 9 experiment looks to have been dispensed with, especially now that Maxime Lopez has left on loan to Italian outfit Sassuolo.
Whilst Ben Arfa will grab headlines, Marseille were significantly busier than Saturday's visitors with the most recent transfer window drawing to a close. Michaël Cuisance has arrived on loan from Bayern Munich, with right-back Bouna Sarr going the other way in a permanent deal.
Watch: Highlights of Marseille's 1-1 draw with Lyon
Hiroki Sakai's presence makes Sarr's departure relatively easy to address, while Cuisance could be handed his debut in a five-man midfield. Villas-Boas has more thinking to do further forward, with Lopez gone and the talismanic Dimitri Payet suspended.
"We pass to him because we know he's capable of anything," Dario Benedetto said of Payet earlier this season. "He'll do everything to win, either by scoring or assisting. He's a complete player who never lets go. Without him it's not the same game."
Nemanja Radonjic - who scored when OM beat Bordeaux 3-1 the December before last - or 18-year-old Brazilian Luis Henrique, signed from Botafogo, could come in on the left-hand side in place of Payet should Villas-Boas revert to a three-man attack.
Captain Steve Mandanda - the only player in either side called up for the most recent France squad - played the first half of last Wednesday's 7-1 friendly win over Ukraine in Paris but was rested for the UEFA Nations League and should be fit to start.
Marseille: Mandana; Sakai, Alvaro, Caleta-Car, Nagatomo; Rongier, Kamara; Thauvin, Cuisance, Sanson; Benedetto
Bordeaux: Costil; Sabaly, Pablo, Koscielny, Benito; Basic, Otavio; de Préville, Ben Arfa, Oudin; Maja