Football misses Eric Cantona.
It’s been 19 years since the Frenchman announced his retirement as a player and then he skipped management for a career in the film industry.
But now the kung-fu kicking maverick is set for a return as Marseille’s sporting director.
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That is according to French newspaper La Marseillaise - per Sport Witness - who claim the Ligue 1 side are planning a major rebuild that includes Cantona in a senior position.
Marseille have suffered a spectacular fall from grace. After finishing runners-up in 2013, L’OM currently sit 14th in the table and haven’t won a league games since February 2.
Their biggest stars have all left, and that includes manager Marcelo Bielsa, who departed at the beginning of the season after falling out with the club’s hierarchy.
Marseille were destined to suffer after Andre Ayew, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Dimitri Payet, Giannelli Imbula, Rod Fanni and Florian Thauvin all left in the summer.
Marseille are up for sale
Owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus has put the club up for sale and La Marseillaise report that businessman Xavier Giocanti is interested in purchasing it.
One of his first actions will be to make Cantona the sporting director, with talks advancing “considerably” in recent hours.
The former Manchester United man would be welcomed back to his hometown with welcome arms. He played two seasons at Marseille - in 1988-89 and 1990-91 - before moving to England where he played for Leeds and the Red Devils.
In five seasons at Old Trafford, the Frenchman won four Premier League titles and two FA Cups.
But mention Cantona’s name and fans will immediately think of that infamous kung-fu kick on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons in 1995, for which he received a nine-month ban.
Although he missed the end of the 1994-95 and beginning of the 1995-96 seasons, Cantona’s outburst actually helped Sir Alex Ferguson in a way.
That’s because former Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti revealed a few years ago that he wanted to bring the striker to the San Siro. However, any interest he had was put to bed when Cantona lashed out on Simmons.
“The first idea that I had after buying the club was taking both Cantona and [Roberto] Mancini," Moratti told the Corriere della Sera, per Goal.
“Then Cantona ended that in my presence in London with that Kung Fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan and he decided to stay in Manchester.”
Moratti clearly didn’t want to sign a player who was criminally charged with assault, and who can blame him?
Yet Moratti’s change of heart was United’s gain and Cantona helped United win the title in 1996 and 1997.
Sometimes it pays to be nasty. As Marseille could be about to find out.