The Curious Case of Florian Thauvin

During the madness of Transfer deadline day on Monday, a curious transfer between two French Ligue 1 clubs caught the eye. It may seem odd in a league that saw the arrival of multi-million pound Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint Germain, but a transfer for just £12.7 million stood out at first glance. Yes, there have been more expensive, more prestigious names imported from foreign league toFrance’s top division, but none quite as intriguing as the transfer of Florian Thauvin, now of Olympique de Marseille.

At just 20 years old, Florian Thauvin now already finds himself at one of France’s biggest and best supported clubs. Just twelve months ago, the pacy playmaker was playing for lowly Bastia, having signed for the Corsican club following his former club’s liquidation in 2011. In the space of 24 months, Thauvin has gone from an uncertain future without a club to a multi-million pound move to Marseille. This journey has not happened without a hitch however, and the youngster has garnered some criticism for his conduct over that period.

Having signed for Lille in January, following a respectable run of form for Bastia, for a respectable £3 million fee, Thauvin was loaned back to his former club for the remainder of the season, similar to Wilfried Zaha’s transfer from Crystal Palace to Manchester United. Over that period, Thauvin excelled for Bastia once again, and the young man went to the U-20?s World Cup in Turkey over the summer in excellent form.

Throughout France’s campaign, Thauvin excelled at the head of a midfield involving Player of the Tournament Paul Pogba, and Sevilla defensive midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, as the unheralded Les Bleus went on to win the tournament for the first time in their history. As a result of Thauvin’s brilliant form in Turkey, and his sterling end to the season, the young man was subject to much speculation over his future, and whether he may have outgrown Lille without having played a single game for the club. Unfortunately for the twenty year old, all the talk about his future may have had a negative effect on his attitude towards the game, and this manifested itself over the past fortnight in an ugly dispute with Lille, resulting in Thauvin refusing to play or take part in training, similar to the closing stages of Gareth Bale‘s protruded transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid.

After his self imposed “strike” lasted for over a week, Lille’s hand was forced, and the club accepted a generous bid from Marseille of almost £13 million, almost £10 million more than they paid for him only 6 months and zero first team minutes ago. Lille will undoubtedly, and quite rightly be unhappy at the manner of his departure and his attitude in forcing through a move, but this move may just suit everyone more than first thought. Lille get a handy £10 million profit from a player they never even played, Marseille get a highly rated homegrown prospect, and Thauvin gets the big stage he desperately craves.

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All in all, this intriguing story may not interest anyone, but it is a very rare situation where a team buys a player who subsequently never plays for them, and it is even rarer that the team still manages to make a hefty profit on him. In a crazy, hectic and confusing deadline, Florian Thauvin’s story highlights as always that football’s only predictability is that it is always unpredictable.

Ben Thompson

Follow me on twitter at: @BenThompson770

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