Fallen French giants Marseille appointed former Chelsea and Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas as the club’s new coach on Tuesday, marking his return to football after 18 months without a club.
Villas-Boas, 41, had been out of a job since leaving Chinese side Shanghai SIPG in November 2017. He takes over at the Velodrome on a two-year deal as the replacement for Rudi Garcia.
“We are delighted to hire a coach whose success is recognised at the highest level in Europe and in the world,” Marseille owner Frank McCourt said in a club statement.
Villas-Boas served as an assistant to Jose Mourinho before making his name at Porto, where he won three titles in 2010/11 – his only season at the club – and became the youngest coach to win a Uefa competition, after lifting the Europa League trophy.
His success in his native Portugal earned him a move to Chelsea, although he lasted just seven months at Stamford Bridge, but he later took over at Tottenham as the successor to Harry Redknapp.
After 18 months at Spurs, Villas-Boas resurfaced at Zenit St Petersburg in 2014, guiding the club to a Russian Premier League title and cup triumph during a two-year spell.
He quit Shanghai SIPG following a turbulent 2016/17 campaign, and took part in last year’s Dakar Rally, withdrawing with injury after an early crash.
Villas-Boas will take charge of a Marseille side that has missed out on qualifying for European football next season following a fifth-placed finish in Ligue 1 this term.
Ex-Roma and Lille boss Garcia, who was appointed by OM in October 2016, announced he was leaving the club last week after failing to lead the club back into the Champions League.
Garcia steered Marseille to last year’s Europa League final in his first full season at the helm, but they were beaten 3-0 by Atletico Madrid.
“The philosophy and playing approach of Andre Villas-Boas is in line with what we want for OM, and will help revitalise our project after a disappointing campaign,” said McCourt.
“Our expectations are still very high, and we’re making the necessary changes to reach our goals.”
Marseille were European champions in 1993, but have not competed in the continent’s top club competition since bowing out of the 2013/14 group stage without a single point.
Domestically, they last won the Ligue 1 title in 2010, and have been completely overshadowed by Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain in recent years.
Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud said: “Andre Villas-Boas is a coach who is both young and already very experienced. He has the perfect knowledge of the requirements of the highest level.
“We are convinced that the modernity of his methods, his very sharp vision of football and his sense of innovation will be major assets to starting a new cycle, which will allow our club to resume its progress.”
Marseille are awaiting a decision on the future of Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who is out of contract after joining the club in January.AFP