Rafa Benitez explains why he HAD to let Florian Thauvin leave Newcastle

Florian Thauvin

Florian Thauvin

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Rafa Benitez has explained his decision to let Florian Thauvin return to Olympique Marseille – after the winger was called up by France.

Thauvin rejoined his former club on a season-long loan early in the season.

We knew when he was here that he was a good player. But sometimes a player is not settled down in a city or a club or whatever and he has to go to another place that maybe he is more comfortable and can play at his level.

Rafa Benitez

Marseille are obligated to buy the 24-year-old at the end of the deal.

Thauvin, signed in the summer of 2015 for a £14million fee, had a distrous few months at St James’s Park before returning to the Stade Velodrome on loan for the second half of last season.

And he his impressive form in Ligue 1 this season has been recognised by France coach Didier Deschamps.

“He has good qualities and has consistency this season,” said Deschamps.

United manager Benitez – who wanted to sign a winger in January – felt this season’s loan deal was right for Thauvin and Newcastle given that the player had not settled on Tyneside and wanted to leave.

“From the beginning, my conversations with him were very clear,” said Benitez.

Asked about Thauvin’s form, Benitez said: “I have been in contact with him.

“We knew when he was here that he was a good player.

“But sometimes a player is not settled down in a city or a club or whatever and he has to go to another place that maybe he is more comfortable and can play at his level.

“With him, it was very clear from day one. We knew what was the best for both.

“Now I’m happy because he is going with the national team and that is good news for him.”

Thauvin made just three Premier League starts for United and was booed by fans on his last appearance.