In January Arsenal and Newcastle United both pushed hard to bring in the talented SC Bastia midfielder Florian Thauvin. The 20-year-old Frenchman had caught the eye with his performances for the Corsican club in Ligue 2 last season and this year cemented himself as a first-team regular for the team under Frederic Hantz.
Bastia were reportedly after payment packages of up to £6 million for the French youth international but in the end it did not matter; because Thauvin decided he did not want to play for either Premier League club anyway.
Instead he signed for Lille; the reasons why he explained to beIN Sport in February:
“[Arsenal and Newcastle] are very big clubs and what’s more the Premier League is a really big league, so I was really happy about their interest. It just makes me even more determined to get to the top. I thought about it with my agents. We’ve always put football first, and I thought the offer I got from Lille was the most appealing.”
It seems the decision of Lille to send him back out on-loan to Bastia for the rest of the current campaign was pivotal in his decision; giving him the opportunity to continue playing regular first-team football for the remainder of the current campaign.
Now while in January many would have been wondering just what all the fuss was about now that is no longer the case; because the Frenchman has been in absolutely outstanding form over the last couple of months.
Ever since bagging a brace against Lyon in a 4-1 thrashing against the Ligue 1 title-chasers he has been in sensational scoring form for the club. He scored twice against Valenciennes in the final five minutes of a 4-3 triumph just a fortnight later. The week after that he grabbed another Ligue 1 brace with a pair of strikes against Stade Brest in a 4-0 conquest.
After going goalless in his two games since against Lorient and Toulouse he quickly got back to scoring ways this weekend.
He grabbed an equaliser for the club at the Stade Velodrome against Marseille on Saturday; and what an equaliser it was. Picking up the ball just inside the opposition half he travelled unchallenged toward goal before rasping a 30-yard left-foot strike past Steve Mandanda into the Marseille net.
In the end it was Joey Barton’s new bezzer in the South of France Andre Pierre Gignac who had the last laugh when his second goal secured a win for the side.
But judging by his recent form it would seem Arsenal and Newcastle United certainly missed out on a trick with this young French talent; lord knows Newcastle do with an in-form player right now.
image: © Julien Haler