Newcastle United winger Florian Thauvin has given an in-depth interview to L’Équipe to discuss a turbulent 6 months that have culminated in the Frenchman’s return to Marseille on loan until the end of the season. In full.
Why have you returned to a club where you had such a difficult two years of your career?
Firstly, I could not have signed anywhere else other than Marseille because you cannot play for three different clubs in one season. After that, you have to live it to understand it. This is a club that is carried by its fans. I was certainly missing that adrenaline.
Did you really want to leave Marseille last summer?
It is true that my transfer happened at the last minute and very quickly. There was a change of manager, the club needed money. It was a good opportunity for me to discover the best league in the world.
Did you not feel like you had been hung out to dry by the Marseille board?
There is this label of you being sheltered by Vincent Labrune…
Not this question, please.
People made a link between us because we came from the same town. It is not because players are born in Marseille that they necessarily become the darlings of the Velodrome, no? It is tiring. You always seem to be adding a label on to me each time. All I want to do is play football. I came back to Marseille to live my passion. I would like that I am judged, or not judged, by what I do on the pitch.
I want to be judged liked everybody else.
But the beginning of your career was full of promises, the expectations are certainly stronger when it comes to you.
I need to be left to play my football, to be left to work. I still have my entire career in front of me.
But time is going by.
If I manage to take the right turn now, I can reverse things. And you can still play football at a very high level after reaching 30. I must not put too much pressure on myself.
Even after your delicate period at Newcastle?
I had a new experience, a new league, a new way of life. It allowed me to reflect a little on the two years that I had at Marseille, to understand certain things.
The criticism can be even more violent in England, like that which followed your appearance in a suit and bowtie ahead of a match?
In England, at each home game, you need to come to the stadium in a suit. It is the tradition. But on that day, Alan Shearer violently criticised me by saying that I was making myself out to be someone that I wasn’t even though I was not the only one wearing a bowtie! Why me again? I would like to be left alone…
Your image remains affected by your standoff with Lille to join Marseille in summer 2013. How do you undo that?
It is disappointing that this episode still follows me up until now. In life, we all make decisions, sometimes good ones and sometimes bad ones. But people need to move on to something else.
Did you not make a mistake at that time?
We will never know because I did not stay at Lille. I am proud of my journey, about what I have achieved. I respect the club Lille, but I do not regret having chosen Marseille.
Despite the critics? Are they just as difficult to live through now?
When you are young, you are not prepared for that. But I was convinced that there was lag between what is said about me and reality. Those who are close to me know who I am. During my career, never has a manager spoken badly about me or talked about a bad behaviour, but I arrived in an environment where everything is multiplied by ten.
Your relationship was sometimes choppy with Marcelo Bielsa…
I always had a good relationship with the coach, even if we had at it sometimes, it is like that with all the managers. He is someone who did not like it when there was a drop in results in training, so he let us know.
Were you ejected from training?
Yes, it did not just happen to me. I am someone who does not cause problems. And never, I insist, did a manager complain about me, and I have already got to know a lot of them.
Were you not isolated in the dressing room last season?
Stories, there are a lot of them, especially when we speak about Marseille. Last season, I did not have problems. I always was in contact with certain other players. As I got on well with Steve (Mandanda), our captain, he would have told me if there was a problem with me, no?
You have the reputation as someone who is too easily impressionable…
By who? Why?
At the time, the Lille board depicted you as someone who was under the grasp of your former adviser, uncle Adil…
That was three years ago now. I have not always made the best choices in my environment at the beginning of my career but, with time, I realised that. In our job, it is very difficult to surround yourself with good people, to manage fame and all the external solicitations, all these people who do not want to look after you. I paid for seeing that…