Lizarazu & Marseille: a match made in heaven

28th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 28 (AFP) - Veteran France left-back Bixente Lizarazu said on Wednesday that the main reason for him moving to French championship side Marseille was that it was a marriage made in heaven.

PARIS, July 28 (AFP) - Veteran France left-back Bixente Lizarazu said on Wednesday that the main reason for him moving to French championship side Marseille was that it was a marriage made in heaven.

Lizarazu joined fellow World Cup and Euro 2000 winning team-mate Fabien Barthez at last season's UEFA Cup finalists on a two-year deal after playing abroad for eight years with Athletic Bilbao and Bayern Munich.

"We're very pleased to have signed him," said Marseille president Christophe Bouchet.

The 34-year-old, who started his career with Bordeaux, was released by Bayern after seven seasons and had hoped to join former France coach Jacques Santini at Tottenham in the English Premiership.

But when nothing materialised Marseille stepped in with an offer.

"I'm happy to be joining a team where I know people, such as Fabien (Barthez). I hope we can be among the top places in the title race," said Lizarazu during a press conference at the Marseille team training camp in Britanny.

"While Bayern made me an offer I felt it was time to move on and very soon it became apparent that Marseille and I were like two married people who wanted the same thing.

"Also when Fabien and Zinedine Zidane gave me plenty of reasons to move to Marseille the deal was virtually sealed for me," added Lizarazu, who played with Zidane in the Bordeaux side that went through the Intertoto Cup all the way to the UEFA Cup final in 1996 where they lost to Bayern Munich.

Marseille coach, Jose Anigo, said the left-back was an experienced player who is cool under pressure and whose professional playing days were far from over.

"At 34, he can still continue playing at the top level for a long time" said Anigo.

"He has all the skills and can quickly become a crowd favourite at the Velodrome."

Lizarazu refused to comment on his international future following the retirement, on Tuesday, of his France team mate, defender Lilian Thuram, 32, after 103 caps.

Thuram follows Marcel Desailly into retirement from the international scene with speculation surrounding those of Barthez and even Real Madrid playmaker Zidane after their failure to defend their European title and the disastrous defence of the world crown in 2002.

"That's not on the agenda for today," said Lizarazu, who has been capped 97 times scoring twice.

"I'll decide that later, everything in good time."

Lizarazu is likely to be joined at Marseille by France striker Peguy Luyindula. French champions Lyon have agreed to sell him for EUR 11 million (USD 13 million) to Marseille to fill the gap left by Didier Drogba's GPB 24.5-million (USD 44.5 million) move to English side Chelsea.

However, Marseille have yet to agree personal terms with the player.

Brazilian midfielder Eduardo Costa, 21, also looks certain to leave Bordeaux for Marseille on a four-year deal to replace France Under 21 international midfielder Mathieu Flamini who has joined Arsenal.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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