Trained at OM, Mehdi Benatia had not played with the Marseille club and he left in 2008. He regrets it and points to the youth promotion policy.
OM: Mehdi Benatia would have liked to start his professional career in Marseille
Mehdi Benatia (35 years old in April) was trained at OM between 2003 and 2006, but he did not play a single match with the professional team. After two successive loans to Tours FC (2006-2007) and FC Lorient (2007-2008), he left Olympique de Marseille to sign for Clermont Foot, then in Ligue 2 in 2008. Having put an end to his career at Fatih Karagümrük SK (in Turkey) in December 2021, the former central defender looked back on his time at the Olympians training center. He regrets not having been able to defend the colors of the Marseille club in Ligue 1, when it was his dream.
“My time at OM? I had such a great love for Olympique de Marseille, the supporters and this passion when I was at the training center. I would have liked to start with them (the pros, editor’s note). Besides, my great friend Samir Nasri was also starting out with the pros”, regretted Mehdi Benatia, in an interview with Foot Mercato.
“I was not given my chance”
However, the Franco-Moroccan thinks he had a career that would not have been the same if he had stayed in Marseille. « I was not given my chance, but it allowed me to leave and do much better than what was planned », he relativized, while emphasizing: « to play in Marseille, it is must be in the pants, there are big expectations”. For the record, the former Moroccan international (58 caps, 2 goals) wore the colors of Udinese, AS Rome, Bayern Munich or even Juventus, in addition of course to the four French clubs.
Benatia advises Olympique de Marseille to follow OL’s example
Finally, the former resident of the OM Training Center advised the club based at the Vélodrome to take inspiration from the example of OL, in terms of promoting young players from its academy. “I would like Olympique de Marseille to draw inspiration from Olympique Lyonnais to push the players of its training center. Lyon did it with Houssem Aouar, Castello Lukeba, Anthony Lopes, Rayan Cherki or Maxence Caqueret or in the past with Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa. It’s beautiful and I think that’s what Marseille should be. Putting €20m on a South American (Gerson, editor’s note) is good, but it doesn’t give more sporting guarantees.he recommended in conclusion.