Thauvin: A renewed player on the verge of the World Cup

08 Oct 2017
Mohammed Ali
Photos ©
Florian Thauvin reaches new heights after two years of disarray.

It’s been just over a year since Florian Thauvin returned permanently to Marseille. After a miscalculated sojourn with Newcastle United in the Premier League, not many believed that the 24-year-old would capitalise on the early career promise which propelled the winger to a highly productive 2012-13 season with Bastia and a U-20 FIFA World Cup title with France alongside Paul Pogba & Samuel Umtiti.

It’s true that the English adventure did not work as well as hoped, the player himself admits as much. So, few could have imagined the turnaround in less than 15 months of a player once maligned, yet now on the cusp of a place in Didier Deschamps’ squad for the FIFA World Cup.

The 24-year-old has been irresistible in 2017, chipping in with 12 goals and 8 assists for OM – the second highest tally of any Frenchman in the top 5 European leagues. Only Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette has more (21), having surpassed the Olympian the previous weekend. Indeed, with 3 goals and 6 assists in 13 games already this campaign, Thauvin is once again proving his status as an impact player in Rudi Garcia’s squad.

There have only been two Ligue 1 games out of eight that Thauvin has failed to make a mark in (Angers, Rennes). In a squad that is still coming together after numerous summer signings, to have a player that is able to create opportunities in difficult situations is of major importance.

It’s a criticism for some players to be dismissed as scoring or assisting when the going is good –  somewhat meaningless goals that do little to alter the result. The opposite is true for OM’s number 26. He has proved the catalyst for the fight-back against Nice the previous weekend, forcing Pierre Lees-Melou’s own goal to draw OM back level before completing the win.

It was the same against Nantes back in August, providing the assist for Lucas Ocampos’ winner. Further incidences were apparent last season too, in which Thauvin ended as the only player in the top 6 for both goals and assists in Ligue 1 – a remarkable achievement given the uncertainty in which he began the campaign.

It’s no secret that Florian Thauvin is a different player today than the one welcomed back by Franck Passi in August 2016. The statistics prove it, but it is the personal traits that have really propelled the winger back into the mainstream of French football. The redoubling of efforts, the renewed determination and shedding of the youthful nonchalance and haughtiness that was once the main sticking point in the newspapers that has led him to become a huge asset for Olympique de Marseille.

That fact is not lost on Didier Deschamps either, with the former OM boss selecting him for four France squads in a row – a key advantage this close to the World Cup.  Where #Thauvin2018 may once have elicited a chuckle on social media, it is a very real possibility today.

Of course, the job is nowhere near over for the Orleans native. The next challenge is to maintain the high level to propel OM into the top 3 and into the Champions League for next season. It’s a tough call, but not one that is insurmountable for a player who has overcome everything with ease in the last 15 months.

Long may it continue.

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