Olympique de Marseille was founded in 1899 and at first was a club largely content with rugby union being its main sporting section. However it was the English who helped bring football to the forefront at the south French side. Now an Englishman is returning to these roots in order to try and revive his stuttering career and at the same time try and revive Marseille after a disappointing season.
Joey Barton, or 'Joe' as he now wishes to be known, is reported to be on his way to Marseille on a season long loan, joining an extremely small number of Englishmen playing abroad. Marseille have a good history with English players. Tyrone Mears played a brief spell at the club. Tony Cascarino, although technically Irish (if you read his auto-biography I don’t even think he knew he was Irish till he was standing in the emerald green) is a cult legend at the club after his successful 3 year stint at the club where he developed the nickname ‘Tony Goal’.
Not to forget probably Marseille’s favourite English son Chris Waddle, or ‘Magic Chris’ as he became to be known during his successful 3 year stay at the club, before being lured back to England with Sheffield Wednesday and the dawn of the Premier League. He made such an impact during his 3 year stay that he was voted Marseille’s second best player of the century, behind only the legendary Jean Pierre Papin.
Last season saw Joe Cole have a successful stint at French side Lille and maybe Barton’s thinking is correct. Getting away from English media and pressure could do his career the utmost good.
Joe will know almost immediately if he has displeased the ‘Marseille Mob’ whose opinion is well regarded by the management at the club. However this could be a lure for a man of Joey’s standing. He hasn’t had the chance to play frequently in Europe and to play in front of a new, exciting and unique atmosphere will appeal to the little boy inside him.
Marseille have also recently defeated Turkish side Eskisehirspor on their way to a potential Europa League group stage place, another lure for the opinion splitting QPR man.
Joe is a talented player, of that there is no doubt, and the French game is suited to English players, as Cole showed last season. Joey will more than likely be used in his favoured centre midfield position and does not have much competition for a start, with only Benoit Cheyrou the outstanding centre midfielder on the books.
QPR have no place for a man who is off the books for a significantly long time and lost his head in what was a hugely important game for The Hoops. Not to mention Joe's ban should not be extradited to French or European football from the English FA.
Therefore; he gets to play regular, European football, in front of one of the best and most infamous crowds in the world and potentially challenge for silverware on the domestic front. He might have made the best move of his career.
What do you think of the newly named Joe Barton’s French adventure if it goes ahead?