The 28-year-old winger was one of the French top-flight’s most outstanding players last season, earning widespread praise and links to a number of top clubs.
Yet, in a real coup for the club, West Ham United beat the competition to his signature, agreeing on a five-year contract and confirming the deal on their official website on June 26.
However, while the deal has gone down smoothly in East London, back in France plenty have seen it as a real statement for all of the wrong reasons, with St. Etienne co-chairman Caiazzo leading the critiques.
“Many players leave good French clubs to go and play for mid-table English clubs. Let’s be clear, this is a choice of money. It is harmful for French football and for our national team,” he explained.
Is trading Marseille for West Ham United a step down?
While Marseille are a big club in France and regularly feature in European competitions at their wonderful Stade Velodrome, in relative terms they are no longer a powerhouse in modern football.
West Ham, while clearly finding their feet in the English top tier once more, have the potential to break into the Premier League’s top seven with their move into the Olympic Stadium imminent.
The Premier League’s so-called lesser sides are making big strides to get better, and with the new economic deal in place, clubs can afford to attract Europe’s best talent.