Valbuena defends Russia move

Mathieu Valbuena celebrates scoring Marseille's first goal. (Gallo)
Mathieu Valbuena celebrates scoring Marseille's first goal. (Gallo)

Marseille - France international playmaker Mathieu Valbuena broke down in tears as he bade farewell to Marseille on Tuesday but said he had not agreed to go to Dynamo Moscow "by default".

Valbuena said in a press conference that he had been seduced by the desire Dynamo showed to recruit the 29-year-old.

"It was a carefully thought-out decision. I liked what they had to say.

"They have a genuine sporting project," said Valbuena, who has signed a three-year deal with Dynamo which will earn him a reported €10 million altogether.

"I am ambitious and I want to help them progress. I did not choose to come here by default," added the player who had no offers on the table from any of Europe's leading leagues with the reported exception of Premier League sides Queen's Park Rangers and West Ham United.

"It was a great offer, financially too, but also for the sporting challenge."

"What makes me most proud is that I succeeded at OM," said the little 29-year-old, who joined Marseille in 2006 and helped the south-coast side win the Ligue 1 title in 2010.

"He has carried the team single-handedly in recent years," said Marseille president Vincent Labrune, before hailing "a long spell, one of the longest in the club's history."

Labrune added that Valbuena's number 28 shirt would soon be retired in honour of the achievements of a player who also won the League Cup three times during his spell at the Stade Velodrome.

Meanwhile, Valbuena, who has won 38 caps for France, said that helping Les Bleus reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil last month was among "the best moments of my career".

"We were like 23 brothers. To be together for 47 days is not easy, especially when you are 23 guys, but there were never any problems, not one angry word.

"I think we have a squad that can go very far. We can do well at Euro 2016," which France will host, he added.

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