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By ESPN Staff

Deschamps a 'natural choice' to coach Marseille

Former France captain Didier Deschamps will take over as coach of Olympique Marseille next season, the Ligue 1 title contenders said on Tuesday.

Captain of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning France teams, Deschamps will replace Belgian Eric Gerets, who previously announced he was stepping down at the end of the season.

"The choice of Didier Deschamps, whose playing and coaching career speaks for itself, was a natural one," OM said on their website.

"A meeting between the club's president and its major shareholder last Friday confirmed this choice. After Eric Gerets, Marseille could only set their sights on a top coach."

The club said Deschamps had signed a two-year contract and stated that its priority was winning the Ligue 1 title.

"I accepted the proposal to come and become coach of Olympique Marseille next season," the 40-year-old told the club's website.

The Bayonne-born Deschamps is the last captain to have lifted a trophy for Marseille, winning the 1993 Champions League before going on to enjoy success with Juventus in Italy and Chelsea in England.

He won three Serie A titles and the 1996 Champions League with Juve.

Famously derided as a "water carrier" by Eric Cantona, Deschamps won 103 caps with France, scoring four goals.

"I will tackle this mission with a lot of humility and determination. It is with great pride that I come back to Marseille," said Deschamps.

"I will not make any other comment before the end of the season, out of respect for Eric Gerets's work, to which I want to pay a tribute."

As a coach, Deschamps led Monaco to the 2004 Champions League final and helped Juventus win promotion back to Serie A in the 2006/07 season.

Marseille, top of Ligue 1 with four matches remaining, had eyed Deschamps as a replacement for Jean Fernandez in 2006 but the deal did not materialise and the former France skipper decided to join Juventus.

Since leaving Juve in 2007, Deschamps has spent part of his time as a pundit for French TV channel Canal Plus.

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