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Feb 18, 2013

Valbuena extends Marseille stay

Marseille have announced that midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has agreed a two-year contract extension to keep him at the club until 2017.

Mathieu Valbuena gave Marseille the lead
Mathieu Valbuena is prolonging his Marseille stay

The future of Valbuena, 28, had appeared unclear when he said he would extend his contract only if the club qualified for next season's Champions League.

Before Christmas, he had said he was ready to prolong his stay at the Stade Velodrome beyond the end of his deal in June 2015.

But speaking after the weekend’s 1-0 victory over Valenciennes, he told the press: “I'm happy at Marseille, but I'll only extend my contract if we qualify for the Champions League.”

L'Equipe reported on Monday that Valbuena, who was reportedly approached by Fenerbahce in January, had signed a two-year extension last autumn. The paper said no official announcement was made because the extension would only take effect if Marseille finished in the top three.

But the club have now confirmed the contract extension without providing any further details or reaction.

Marseille’s weekend win, which took them into second place before Lyon thrashed Bordeaux 4-0 on Sunday to leapfrog them, gives them a four-point cushion over fourth-placed Nice.

Only the top two in Ligue 1 qualify automatically for the group stage of the Champions League, with the team finishing third facing a two-legged play-off.

Should coach Elie Baup manage to steer the club through to join the continent's elite, he is likely to step up attempts to strengthen their squad.

After failing to bring in Romanian Razvan Rat from Shakhtar Donetsk in January, Marseille remain in the hunt for a left-back, with Montpellier's Henri Bedimo their number one target according to L'Equipe.

Club president Vincent Labrune reportedly contacted the Ligue 1 champions in the final hours of the January window in an attempt to pick up the Cameroon international, who is under contract until 2016.

Although Montpellier president Laurent Nicollin rejected the idea, he left the door open for further talks next summer.

L'Equipe also reported that there had already been a meeting between Marseille officials and Bedimo's representatives.

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