Mercato Mercato – OM recruits Cédric Bakambu: Pablo Longoria, president but still a scout

23 seconds. Not one more. Pablo Longoria may be the boss of one of the biggest clubs in Ligue 1, but he is not used to getting lost in facade speeches or courtesy messages. This Friday, when he landed in front of journalists to present his new recruit, Cédric Bakambu, the Spaniard quickly greeted his interlocutors and sent his message of greetings. The president of OM is never as comfortable as when he talks about the pitch. So that’s what he did.

« He is a player who has demonstrated in France, Turkey, Spain in Villarreal and China that he can play in different positions., he debited from the start. It gives us new possibilities on the offensive levelThe effect is not new, since the leader had already presented a dozen recruits last summer. But he continues to surprise.

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« Longoria will always know the player they are offered, whether it is a player from a team ranked fifteenth or third in La Liga, told us Antonio Salamanca, scout passed by Tottenham, Villarreal or Liverpool. Which is not always the case with other Ligue 1 presidents looking to interfere in recruitment. »

Longoria did not let go of Bakambu with one sole

Bakambu left the Old Continent just four years ago for China, his salaries miraculous and the prospect of becoming the most expensive African player in history at the time – for a transfer of more than 70 million euros. But Pablo Longoria never lost sight of him. « It’s a love story between us, even slipped the leader. We’ve talked many times in the past.  » In 2019, when he was still sporting director of Valencia, he had already tried to attract him.

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In constant and repeated discussions with Jorge Sampaoli, the coach he chose, to find out the needs of the squad, Longoria had a very clear idea of ​​the profile lacking in the OM attacking sector. To see the enthusiasm with which he welcomed his new player – a very warm handshake – one can imagine that the attacker was very high on the list of the seven or eight names that the Spaniard had laid down, as he does for each position to be reinforced.

At 30, and having not played for many weeks, Cédric Bakambu will still have to dispel many doubts surrounding his real level, technically and physically. But it is not there by chance. « Longoria has the basics to do a very good job because he comes from scouting« , underlined Antonio Salamanca. Obviously, the Marseille president has retained some old reflexes.

The players are impressed

« I vividly remember his time at Bursaspor, where he played as a left winger, assured the leader on Friday. In Spain he played with Soldado as a second striker. Sometimes, with Léo Baptistão, he did the job of a first striker. In the national team, Mbokani was rather the point of reference and Cédric played around him.  » We checked, and it was sometimes a bit tedious: the report of the President of Olympian is impeccable.

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Even if OM’s results are not quite up to the level of the investments made last summer, Longoria has at least succeeded in a first bet: to give back, thanks to its knowledge of the sports sector and the workings of the transfer window, of the credit to a project that had lost a lot.

It’s a virtuous circle: the overall impression also has its small effect on the players. « I told my agent that I was looking for a purely sporting challenge, said Bakambu. When he offered me OM, I immediately got hooked and said: ‘That’s where I want to go.’ We were in contact with the president, the feeling was good so it happened naturally and very smoothly. » As fluid as the account, by Pablo Longoria, of his evolution in the various clubs he attended.

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