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By ESPN Staff
Jul 31, 2008

'Marseille turn down Zenit bid for Valbuena'

Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena claims he has turned down a big-money move to UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg. With Zenit facing the prospect of losing star forward Andrei Arshavin, they have made a bid - believed to be in the region of 18million euros - for Valbuena, according to a statement on the Frenchman's personal website. But the 23-year-old, who is currently out of action with a back injury, has pledged his future to OM, with whom he enjoyed a breakthrough season last campaign. The statement read: 'Mathieu's agent confirms he has been approached by Zenit St Petersburg, who wanted to secure the services of the Marseille player. 'Effectively, the Russian club offered a true fortune to Mathieu and declared they could buy out the contract of the revelation of last year's championship for Marseille, for a colossal sum. 'Mathieu, after talks with (OM) coach Eric Gerets, who himself spoke to Zenit counterpart Dick Advocaat, has decided to stay loyal to the club...., declaring he wanted to continue wearing the colours of Marseille.' English side Tottenham appear to be in pole position to sign Arshavin, who will hold more talks with Zenit officials before revealing his destination. Valbuena is an out-and-out wideman and therefore plays in a slightly different position to Arshavin, but Zenit's decision to make an offer for the diminutive Marseille winger is being seen as an attempt to cover for the potential loss of their star player. Valbuena's contract at OM runs until 2013 and he is happy to commit his future to the southern club, who signed him from Libourne-Saint-Seurin in 2006. 'Mathieu wishes to publicly thank the Russian club's directors... and wants to make it clear that the love he has for the jersey is stronger than any financial considerations, and that he would have taken the same decision if it had been a Spanish, Italian, English or German club interested,' the statement continued. Valbuena, who came close to making France's squad for Euro 2008, has been sidelined with a back injury since the end of last season and will not be returning to training until the start of September.

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