Football

Arsenal boss admits long-standing interest in Marseille star

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Arsene Wenger has revealed his long-standing interest in Marseille youngster Florian Thauvin as Arsenal prepare to face the French giants in a match that could decide their Champions League fate.

Thauvin's case is a curious one. He joined Lille from Bastia in January before being sent back to his previous employers on loan and then securing a transfer to Marseille only nine months later.

The 20-year-old's departure from Lille before he had even played a game for the club was due to something of a difference of opinion with regards to his contract, and Marseille were willing to offer far more lucrative terms.

Thauvin had been linked with Arsenal, both before his switch to Lille and when it became clear that he would leave Stade Pierre-Mauroy, and Wenger has revealed his interest in the midfielder dates back to his time on Corsica.

"We were interested in him before he went to Lille," Wenger told Le10, as translated by Sport Witness.

"For me, he is one of the great hopes of French football. He'll go higher, he's only 20 years old."

Thauvin was an 80th minute substitute in Marseille's earlier European encounter with Arsenal this season, but Wenger is likely to get a closer look at the player at the Emirates Stadium given his excellent recent form.

The France under-21 international has scored in each of his last three games for OM, and would appear set to be afforded a start for Tuesday's encounter in north London.

Arsenal need to win and hope Borrusia Dortmund fail to beat Napoli to ensure their path into the last 16 of the competition, while Marseille are already out of contention to progress.

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