Villas-Boas on way out of Marseille after offering to resign over Ntcham signing

Marseille (AFP) – Andre Villas-Boas has taken charge of Marseille for the last time after being officially “suspended” by the club on Tuesday having earlier offered to resign as coach of the Ligue 1 club over the signing of midfielder Olivier Ntcham from Celtic against his wishes on transfer deadline day.

“This protective decision had become inevitable given the recent scheming and attitudes shown which have seriously damaged Olympique de Marseille as an institution,” read a club statement announcing the suspension.

The move is a first step towards Marseille definitively parting company with the 43-year-old from Portugal, who became coach at the Velodrome in 2019.

Yet Villas-Boas earlier said he wanted “nothing from OM, no money. I just want to leave.”

He said his decision came after Ntcham, a 24-year-old former France Under-21 international, joined on loan from Celtic until the end of the season just before the winter transfer window closed.

Ntcham has started just one game for Celtic since October. Villas-Boas said he had not been in favour of the deal and knew nothing about it.

“The transfer window closed with the arrival of a new player on deadline day. It was not a decision that was taken by me. I had nothing to do with the decision,” he said at a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s game against Lens.

“I found out this morning when I woke up and looked at the press. I had specifically said no to that player and he was never on our list of targets.”

Villas-Boas said Ntcham was “a guy who has none of the characteristics of the player who has left”, in reference to Morgan Sanson, who was last week sold to Aston Villa for a reported fee of £15.5 million ($21.2m).

“This is not how I work.

“Because of that I have handed in my resignation to the board.”

In their statement, Marseille described the coach’s comments — aimed at the club’s Spanish sporting director Pablo Longoria — as “unacceptable”.

Villas-Boas, the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager, had already said last week that he expected to leave when his contract expires at the end of this season, with Marseille on a run of just one win in nine games in all competitions.

Three straight league defeats have seen last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up slip to ninth in the table before they face Lens. It is not yet known who will be in charge of the team for that game.

Their scheduled match at home to Rennes last Saturday was postponed after several hundred angry fans stormed the club’s training ground, leading to 25 arrests. 

The supporters were demonstrating against the poor results but also against the running of the club by president Jacques-Henri Eyraud.

The protesters were condemned as “thugs” by Marseille’s owner, the American tycoon Frank McCourt, who likened the incidents to the deadly January 6 assault on the US Congress.

Eight of those arrested were detained on Monday awaiting trial later this month.

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