L'OM SPLASH OUT FOR BELGIAN DEFENDER
By Paul Higham. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
MARSEILLE are set to smash the Belgian transfer record by paying Standard Liege 900 million Belgian francs (£13.5m) for defender Daniel van Buyten.
The fee that has been reported in France would double the amount Borussia Dortmund splashed out to sign giant Czech striker Jan Koller from Anderlecht.
The 23-year-old Belgian international cost Standard just $318,600 two years ago when he joined from Charleroi, but he is now to become the second most expensive defender in the world behind Leeds' Rio Ferdinand.
Marseille president Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who is also the major stakeholder in Standard Liege, has brokered the deal between the two clubs that is thought to involve half the money being paid now and the rest either later or through L'OM players moving to Belgium.
L'OM coach Tomislav Ivic is looking to replace William Gallas and has compared the powerful centre half to a younger Jaap Stam, while Standard manager Luciano D'Onofrio was quoted as saying Van Buyten was "an improved version of Philippe Albert".
"He's got enormous potential and can help Marseille regain prominence in the French league," said D'Onofrio.
"However ambitious you are for your club, you can't stand in the way of a deal like this".
Van Buyten told his new club's website that he was delighted to be joining a side that he had admired as a boy, and was convinced that the club would soon make their way back to be one of Europe's elite.
"L'OM are a club that you just don't turn down," said van Buyten.
"Bernard Tapie and Tomislav Ivic talked to me and said that they wanted the club to make a return to the top as of the next season. It is an exciting challenge.
"It is a club which fascinated me much during the Nineties. I bought the club shirt regularly.
"It is a very strong championship in France, more than it is in Belgium and it is certain that in coming here, I will climb a level."
Van Buyten said that the fact that Ivic was coach was a major factor in moving to the Stade Velodrome.
"Ivic is somebody for whom I have much respect. As soon as it became a question of me moving to L'OM, I asked to speak to him.
"Thanks to him, things have gone well and I think that that will continue".