Roma look to Marseille’s Florian Thauvin as replacement for Mohamed Salah

Corriere dello Sport (Marco Filacchione) As many people are saying in France, if Roma are looking for Salah’s successor then Florian Thauvin is their man. A left-footed player used to playing on the right, quick, skilled at one-on-ones, and menacing in front of goal. He’s less direct than the Egyptian, but is more powerful and stylish. He won a lot of plaudits after his last season with Marseille, both for what he did on the pitch (38 games, 15 goals, 9 assists) and off it.

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He has always been something of a troubled character: in 2013, he agreed to move from Bastia to Lille, attracted by the idea of working with Rudi Garcia. Then, when the coach moved to Roma, he went on strike. After fining him €1500 for every training session he missed, Lille saw an opportunity to sell him for €15 million to Marseille, making a sizeable profit on him given that they had paid Bastia just €3.5 million for him. He flourished under Bielsa at Marseille and caught the attention of Newcastle, who signed him for €14 million in 2015.

But more problems arose there, because after 6 mediocre months, he dug his heels in as he demanded – and received – a loan move back to Marseille, where he immediately rediscovered his form. The rest is history: last October, Garcia (note the combination) was appointed coach of Marseille and Thauvin had the best season of his career. At the end of the season, Marseille signed him from Newcastle for €11 million.

And the tantrums? They’ve vanished, and that’s what has struck the French press. In particular, his comments after his recent debut for the national team struck a chord. Even though France had 3 games in a row, he only played 10 minutes in a friendly against Paraguay. Far from complaining about this though, he reacted as though it was a blessing.

In the past he has been labelled ambitious and arrogant, but he has turned over a new leaf and has become more thankful for his opportunities. It is a strategy that has probably been suggested to him by his wise entourage, led by the Italian Fabrizio Ferrari. He is only 24 years old and still has a lot of untapped potential.

His preferred position is on the right wing, but he has often also played on the left, where he is more inclined to run towards the byline rather than directly for goal. If he has learned how to hold his tongue off the pitch, on it he still has a certain cockiness, most evident when he is taking someone on one-on-one. His only experience abroad thus far was not a success but, as they are saying in France, that was a different Thauvin.

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