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Nice face a season of struggle

France
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 By PA Sport

Matheiu Valbuena won't return to France: 'My future can only be abroad'

Mathieu Valbuena says he is unlikely to join another French club.

Former France midfielder Mathieu Valbuena admits his career must continue outside his homeland after the off-field issues which blighted his time with Lyon.

The playmaker's form and mindset were badly affected after the reported existence of a sex-tape showing him and his partner became public.

His then-international teammate Karim Benzema was charged with conspiracy to blackmail Valbuena, an investigation into which is still ongoing. The Real Madrid striker recently won an appeal to France's supreme appeal court over aspects of the investigation as he bids to have the charges dismissed.

Neither man has played for Les Bleus since the case came to light, both missing Euro 2016 on home soil as a result, and Valbuena recently left Lyon for Turkish club Fenerbahce on a two-year contract.

Speaking to La Provence, the newspaper based in his longtime home of Marseille, he said: "Contrary to what has been said, Lyon would have been quite happy to keep me [but] my future can only be abroad.

"I do not regret at all signing for Lyon. They were two difficult but positive years. My stories outside of sport did not help me. People tried to push my head underwater.

"Everyone knows why I was not at the Euro. There was some bitterness but I have moved on.

"France is still in the back of my mind but I am a long way away with the emergence of the new generation."

Nevertheless, he retains an affection for Provence, where his top-flight career began in 2006.

"I return often, I have a house in Aix," he said. "Marseille is my whole life, that is where I emerged. I am still the number one supporter of Marseille."

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