One of Marseille’s favourite sons returned home last month and French left-back Lucas Digne says the Stade Velodrome was always in Dimitri Payet’s heart.
Having left for Premier League side West Ham in 2015, France international playmaker Payet returned to Marseille in a £25million deal before the transfer window shut in January.
While angering West Ham and their fans, Payet was lauded on France’s south coast for his determination to make it back to the Ligue 1 club, where he spent two seasons before moving to London.
And Payet’s second coming, as well as Patrice Evra’s arrival from Italian champions Juventus, came as no surprise to Barcelona defender and France team-mate Digne following Euro 2016 on home soil.
Speaking to Omnisport as Marseille prepare to host Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, ex-PSG star Digne said: “Dimitri always had Marseille in his heart.
“During the Euros, Pat [Evra] talked about the atmosphere in the Velodrome which he loved.
“So I think they are two very good choices for Marseille and for them as well.”
— Olympique Marseille (@OM_English) February 17, 2017
Head coach Rudi Garcia played a key role in luring Payet back to the Velodrome.
Part of American tycoon Frank McCourt’s new project under president Jacques-Henri Eyraud, former Roma boss Garcia returned to coaching in place of Michel in October, following Franck Passi’s interim tenure.
Garcia worked with Payet during the pair’s time together at fellow French outfit Lille, where the latter spent two seasons before making the switch to Marseille in 2013.
Digne is no stranger to Garcia either, after spending the 2015-16 campaign on loan at Roma, having previously played for Lille, and the 23-year-old is a big fan of his countryman’s work.
“I think it’s very good news for Marseille. He’s a great coach,” Digne added.
“He’ll bring all his experience with his staff and they’ll do a very good job in my opinion.”
— Olympique Marseille (@OM_English) February 22, 2017
Marseille welcome reigning French champions PSG to the Velodrome on the weekend.
Garcia’s side improved following his arrival but they have lost four of their past seven league fixtures – without consecutive wins since late December – to sit sixth in the standings, four points adrift of the final European qualification place and 17 behind second-placed PSG after 26 games.
Digne – a two-time Ligue 1 winner with the club from the French capital prior to his transfer to Spanish giants Barca – is excited about Sunday’s fixture.
“I don’t know about [the club’s title chances] this year because [Marseille] is quite far [away] in the rankings,” he continued. “But it’s always a special game between the two teams.”
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