Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas hopes to compete in the Dakar Rally again in the next five years.

Villas-Boas took part in the 2018 race in South America after leaving his position at Shanghai SIPG.

The Portuguese, a motorsport enthusiast whose uncle competed in the event in 1982, was forced to withdraw after fracturing a vertebra on the fourth stage in Peru.

However, Villas-Boas, who is contracted to Marseille until 2021, wants to have another crack while the Dakar Rally is in Saudi Arabia.

"As we granted a day of rest to the players, who deserved it, I took advantage of the invitation from David Castera [Dakar Rally director] to briefly immerse myself in the atmosphere. It reminds me of lots of good memories despite my accident," he told L'Equipe.

"The desire to drive has always been there. When I was little, I dreamed of being a football or rally driver. Then I discovered my love for coaching a little later.

"I will do it again in the next five years in Saudi Arabia. I want to finish the story. I saw pictures the other day, it's amazing.

"This year will be important for the club but I will set aside a slot [for the Dakar Rally] in the next few years."

Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to leave Real Madrid for Juventus "should be appreciated", Andre Villas-Boas said as the Marseille coach backed the star to win the Ballon d'Or.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is tipped to win the award for a record sixth time in Paris on Monday.

Ronaldo is also a five-time winner of the prize, but has not been as prolific since joining Juve from Madrid in 2018.

However, Villas-Boas backed his fellow Portuguese, although he labelled both Ronaldo and Messi as extraterrestrials.

"It's difficult... I am Portuguese so of course I support Ronaldo more," he said.

"Cristiano took a risk by leaving the best team in the world, with more titles in the world. That kind of risk should be appreciated. Playing in Italy and scoring goals is difficult.

"Messi is still in his club, Barcelona, which is a big club. He is able to make the difference.

"But I am more for Cristiano because I'm Portuguese. Both of them are exceptional, it's difficult to choose. It [Ballon d'Or] will become a competition between them.

"Having these two players in the same generation and watching them is absolutely incredible. They are extraterrestrials."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted the Classique must be respected in response to Andre Villas-Boas' comments about the Ligue 1 rivalry after Marseille's crushing defeat.

Ligue 1 holders PSG routed visitors Marseille 4-0 in Paris on Sunday thanks to braces from star forwards Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe.

It was a one-sided clash in the first Classique of the season in the capital, where French giants PSG extended their lead atop the table to eight points.

Prior the match, Marseille boss Villas-Boas claimed PSG were in "another league" due to their financial strength, while adding the clash at the Parc de Princes mattered little to him.

Asked if he regretted not putting more pressure heading into the game, Villas-Boas told Canal +: "No, I do not think so. We do not need pressure. 

"Thomas Tuchel can invent the things he wants to invent, with the size he has, the millions he has, the billions he spends ... For me, he must focus on the Champions League."

Responding to the former Chelsea, Porto and Zenit coach, Tuchel said: "It's a match with a great history in France, we must respect. It's not a meeting like the others for our supporters, for the city of Paris. Advantaged or not [financially], we must win, show our quality. 

"In football, anything is possible, this is for a match of the Champions League as for a match of the Coupe de France.

"OM were fourth in the standings after the last day. We respect history, we respect the game, we respect football. To play against OM, you have to play with the heart, with aggression, not just be tactical, or good technically. 

"We have shown the necessary mentality for a Classique. They tried everything against us, with their style of developing the game."

Icardi – on loan from Serie A side Inter – started ahead of Edinson Cavani and the Argentine forward opened the scoring in the 10th minute before doubling the lead 16 minutes later.

Mbappe joined in on the action with a pair of goals prior to the interval thanks to Angel Di Maria.

"I felt really good tonight. I scored two goals in my first Classique - more than I could have hoped for," said Icardi, who made it seven goals in five games for PSG.

"We won this big match in style and that's the most important. 4-0 is a great score and we need to keep working hard to continue getting results like this.

"Angel Di Maria he supplied me with two great passes to try and score and at the end of the match, we had a good moment with the supporters to celebrate the match together. It was fantastic."

Thomas Tuchel believes Andre Villas-Boas' claim Paris Saint-Germain are in "another league" to their domestic rivals was simply an attempt to manage Marseille fans' expectations ahead of Le Classique.

Villas-Boas said this week that Sunday's clash at the Parc de Princes matters little to him, given PSG's vastly superior financial muscle.

The Ligue 1 champions have dominated in France since they were taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, winning six out of a possible eight league titles.

PSG are also responsible for paying the two biggest transfer fees of all time, shattering the world record when they spent €222million to get Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, while Kylian Mbappe cost a reported €180m from Monaco.

Tuchel brushed off Villas-Boas' claim PSG – who went into this weekend with a five-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit – have an unfair advantage, saying the nature of their rivalry means anything can happen.

"Maybe I would say the same thing if I was the Marseille coach to manage the expectations of the fans," he told a media conference.

"I can understand his opinion because we are in a good period at PSG. We are strong and we have won a lot of titles in recent years. I also consider this to be an isolated match in the league, where the standings of either club don't matter.

"We are not afraid of Marseille and we expect a special atmosphere, like you would have in a Champions League or cup game.

"We like these kinds of atmospheres and are very competitive in them. We are ready to challenge them. This is a big challenge; we expect Marseille to play with intensity and aggression."

Edinson Cavani failed to make it off the bench for the second consecutive game against Club Brugge on Tuesday as he nears a comeback from a hip injury.

Tuchel says the Uruguay international was disappointed not to feature but the PSG boss stands by his decision to reintroduce him slowly.

"He was disappointed, of course, because it's Edinson and he's used to playing with us," he added.

"He missed a lot of games because of his injury. I talked with him. On the one hand, I want to give him minutes because he deserved it and worked super hard to be ready. 

"On the other hand, I have to think about the team, to balance it. I cannot promise him he will play 15 or 20 minutes. It depends on tactical circumstances and injuries. It's hard for me to know.

"I know he's disappointed, but he does not show it in training. I hope he will stay with the same state of mind and I will try to give him some minutes. He needs it to regain rhythm."

Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas believes Paris Saint-Germain's spending power means they are operating in "another league" from their domestic rivals in France.

The Parisian giants have dominated Ligue 1 since they were taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, winning six out of a possible eight league titles.

They are also responsible for paying the two biggest transfer fees of all time, shattering the record when they spent €222million to get Neymar from Barcelona in 2017, while Kylian Mbappe cost €135m from Monaco.

Unsurprisingly, they have wasted little time in stamping their authority on the league again this season, racing into a five-point lead at the summit after 10 games.

Marseille travel to Parc des Princes for Le Classique on Sunday but Villas-Boas says the game matters little to him, given their opponents' financial muscle.

"We're going to have a completely different game against a team that, for me, is not part of this championship because of the investments they've made over the years," he told the media after his side's 2-0 win over Strasbourg on Sunday.

"We're going to try to play the game for the game's sake, but it's a game that doesn't mean much to me. PSG-Marseille, or Marseille-PSG, for me, this is an opportunity to try to do something.

"We obviously dream of winning, but it's a team from another league. It was a Classique in the past. But we're going to Paris; we're going to think of a strategy to play. The most important thing is to have possession of the ball there."

Marseille are fourth in Ligue 1, having picked up 16 points from their opening 10 games.

Marseille winger Florian Thauvin is expected to miss the rest of the first half of the season as he prepares to undergo keyhole surgery to correct an ankle problem he sustained in April.

Thauvin was injured during Marseille's 3-1 victory at Guingamp on April 20 and exacerbated the problem in training, although he recovered in time to help his side finish the 2018-19 season with back-to-back victories as they claimed fifth place in Ligue 1.

However, the issue continued to hamper the France international, who has played just 10 minutes as a substitute in the top flight this term, and he has made the decision to go under the knife in order to return to full fitness.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Florian Thauvin suffered an accidental ankle injury in a match about four and a half months ago.

"This type of lesion, small, very localised, usually allows [the player] to resume after appropriate care and rest. His current progress has allowed him to return to the group but the player still feels a discomfort.

"In order to be able to return to 100 per cent of his capacity, Florian and Olympique de Marseille have decided to carry out a small operation (arthroscopy) in the coming days.

"His period of unavailability should last until the winter break."

The news means Thauvin is likely to be out of action until January, with Ligue 1's mid-season break scheduled to run from December 20 until January 10.

Thauvin's injury problems hampered his side's progress last season, with a heel injury in October 2018 forcing him to miss a Europa League defeat to Lazio before his April absence left Marseille short of creativity at a key stage in the season.

Andre Villas-Boas' side had a mixed start to the new campaign, recovering from an opening-day defeat at home to Reims to go unbeaten in their past three league matches.

Marseille travel to Stade Louis II to face Monaco in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Neymar leaving Paris Saint-Germain would not be good for Ligue 1, Marseille head coach Andre Villas-Boas believes.

PSG star Neymar has been linked to former club Barcelona and Real Madrid before the LaLiga transfer window shuts on September 2.

Neymar reportedly wants to return to Barca after his world-record €222million exit in 2017, while Madrid are also an option.

Asked about Brazil international forward Neymar, Villas-Boas said: "This type of player has an important image in football, a bit like when Ronaldinho was here in Paris.

"There's this attractiveness, the football world wants to watch these kinds of players. I don't know what's going to happen, I can't comment on the separation because I'm not the PSG coach.

"He is an important player in the world of football. For me, it was the player who could succeed [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi for the Ballon d'Or. But he did not recover all the qualities he had shown in Barcelona.

"For Ligue 1, it's not good if he leaves. But we have other good players and clubs like OM, with an international reputation, who will always make Ligue 1 attractive."

Neymar has scored 34 goals in 37 Ligue 1 appearances despite both his seasons at PSG being interrupted by serious foot injuries.

In total, Neymar has managed 51 goals in 58 games for PSG – who opened their title defence with a 3-0 win over Nimes in the absence of the 27-year-old.

New Inter signing Romelu Lukaku has the quality to adjust his game and conquer the defensive prowess in Serie A, according to his former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas.

Belgium striker Lukaku ended his two-year stay with Manchester United on Thursday by linking up with Antonio Conte's Nerazzurri in a club-record deal reported to be €80million.

The move ended a protracted saga that has dominated the rumour mill throughout much of the window, with United clearly keen to move him out of Old Trafford.

United beat Conte's Chelsea to Lukaku's signature from Everton in 2017 for a fee reported to be in the region of £75m.

He was first choice under Jose Mourinho and scored 16 Premier League goals in his debut campaign, but was often overlooked in favour of the more mobile Marcus Rashford once Ole Gunnar Solskjaer assumed the reins.

The move to Inter reflects another challenge for Lukaku to overcome, but Villas-Boas backed his former striker to impress in Serie A.

"He was an extremely powerful player. I was a little obsessed with my 4-3-3 in Chelsea. I positioned him on the wing and he was not very happy about it," Marseille boss Villas-Boas said. 

"At the end of the year he left on loan to West Brom and Everton and later signed for Manchester United. He became one of the greatest strikers in the world. 

"He had a great pace using the spaces. You may not have many spaces in Italy. Italians have great defensive skills. It may be a little difficult for him, but he has a great technical touch.

"His challenges in the air are amazing. I do not know how Conte will play and exploit the best of Lukaku.

"He's obviously a good player. He's a very good person, humble. I knew good times with him."

Dario Benedetto has sealed his reported €14million move from Boca Juniors to Marseille, becoming Andre Villas-Boas' second signing in France.

Argentina international Benedetto joins centre-back Alvaro Gonzalez in moving to Marseille, where he will hope to go some way towards replacing Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli scored eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 matches in an entertaining stint with the club. He left when his contract expired at the end of last season.

Benedetto has taken the number nine shirt worn by the Italian, who has been linked with a switch to Flamengo.

Benedetto has taken the number nine shirt worn by the Italian, who has been linked with a switch to Flamengo.

Benedetto scored 30 goals in 34 appearances across his first two Superliga campaigns with Boca but was on target just twice in 15 outings in 2018-19 after returning from knee and Achilles injuries.

He played a starring role in Boca's run to the 2018 Copa Libertadores final, scoring in the second leg as arch-rivals River Plate won the trophy.

Marseille have endured a tough pre-season and coach Villas-Boas acknowledged star players could yet be sold to the Premier League following a friendly loss to Napoli.

Andre Villas-Boas is anxiously awaiting the closure of the transfer window in the Premier League on Thursday as he fears late moves for his Marseille stars.

Former Chelsea and Tottenham boss Villas-Boas joined Marseille this close season, but some of his top players have been linked with moves away from the Ligue 1 giants.

Florian Thauvin, once of Newcastle United, is a reported target for a host of clubs while Morgan Sanson has been linked to Newcastle, Wolves and West Ham.

Villas-Boas is still hopeful Marseille will be at full strength come Friday, as the window remains open in Europe, but he acknowledges movement late in the day is yet possible.

"We will see. In August, everything can change," Villas-Boas told reporters. "I hope no one will leave our squad, but it can happen.

"We must wait for the end of the English transfer window because, at the end of the day, it is the only country that can change everything."

Villas-Boas has endured a tough first pre-season at Marseille, with notable defeats to Accrington Stanley and Rangers - the latter running out 4-0 winners.

Alvaro Gonzalez has become Andre Villas-Boas' first signing at Marseille after joining on an initial one-season loan from LaLiga side Villarreal.

The agreement includes an option for Marseille to purchase the Spanish centre-back on a permanent basis.

It is the first time the 29-year-old has played outside his homeland and he will be tasked with shoring up a defence that shipped 52 goals in Ligue 1 last season.

His arrival comes as a welcome boost for ex-Chelsea boss Villas-Boas, who has endured a difficult few weeks since replacing Rudi Garcia.

Marseille lost 2-1 to Accrington Stanley in a friendly in Manchester and were then routed 4-0 by Rangers at Ibrox.

Star striker Mario Balotelli left the club on a free transfer at the end of last term.

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