Marseille begin search for Marcelo Bielsa replacement

Marseille's search for a new coach has begun in earnest following the shock resignation of Marcelo Bielsa.

The eccentric Argentinian stood down on Saturday, just one game into the Ligue 1 season, following a summer of speculation over his position.

French sports daily L'Equipe reported on Monday evening that the club have made an ambitious approach to former Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp -- the fans' favourite in a poll run by the same publication, which attracted over 286,000 responses.

Eric Gerets, OM's coach between 2007 and 2009, and the Marseille-born former France midfielder Zinedine Zidane, the current coach of Real Madrid's second-string side Castilla, were among the other names to attract widespread support.

Rene Girard has also been linked with the post and Montpellier president Louis Nicollin, who worked with Girard between 2009 and 2013 including a Ligue 1 title success in 2012, backed him as "a very good choice".

An unnamed Marseille player claimed in L'Equipe that Bielsa had "left us in the s---", but Nicollin added: "Losing Bielsa is nothing to worry about. They will choose a good coach and everything will proceed as normal."

Bielsa announced his exit in his news conference following Saturday's season-opening loss to Caen and insisted he did not have another job lined up.

He had repeatedly been linked with the vacancy at the head of the Mexican national team as talks dragged on over a proposed extension to his contract at the Stade Velodrome.

But Mexican newspaper Record reported late on Sunday that the Argentinian had turned down the chance to succeed Miguel Herrera with El Tri.

Bielsa informed Marseille's directors of his resignation shortly before Saturday evening's news conference in a letter which was published on Sunday on the website of La Provence newspaper.

In it, he wrote that his decision was driven by proposed changes to the terms of his new contract.

The letter read: "After a series of meetings in May, June and early July, we succeeded in reaching an agreement on all aspects of a contract extension for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons. All that was missing was the signature.

"Since mid-July, with my staff, we have worked together even though we had no written contracts.

"On Wednesday, I was called by the director general, Philippe Perez, to a meeting which also featured the lawyer Igor Levine, representing [club owner] Margarita Louis-Dreyfus. They informed me that they wanted to change some points in the new contract.

"After this meeting, I made my decision... after three months of discussion, and two days before the start of the league season, I could not accept the instability generated by changing the contract.

"My position is therefore to no longer work with you. That is definitive."

A statement on the club's website in response read: "The directors of Olympique Marseille have done all they could to bring the club the services of a coach at the top of his profession. But OM cannot in any situation be held prisoner by the demands of someone who places his own interests ahead of those of the club.

"Olympique Marseille have strong enough values and a sufficiently rich history to refuse to submit to the law of one man."

It was also reported on Monday that Marseille would no longer pursue the signing of defender Milton Casco, a compatriot of Bielsa, while long-time target Charles Aranguiz was on the verge of instead joining Bayer Leverkusen.