While waiting for a summer transfer window which will probably be agitated at OM, Jorge Sampaoli is starting to have a very precise idea of the players he wants to keep next season.
Several meetings were held last week about the next transfer window, with Jorge Sampaoli, Pablo Longoria and the club’s recruitment unit, in order to discuss the contours of the future OM. And especially the identity of the players to keep, or not, in the current squad. Among the players loaned with option to buy, it was noted, unsurprisingly, that Sampaoli wants to keep Leonardo Balerdi and Pol Lirola.
OM will try to downgrade their respective purchase options (14 million for Balerdi, 12 million for Lirola) by negotiating with Dortmund and Fiorentina. The idea of a new loan cannot be ruled out, even if this option remains complicated for players who may have other proposals on the market. Regarding Olivier Ntcham and Michaël Cuisance, the purchase options will not be exercised. They will leave OM.
Sampaoli wants to keep Amavi and Thauvin
Another important information, the Argentine technician also told Pablo Longoria, the president of OM, of his wish to keep Jordan Amavi and Florian Thauvin. The two men are at the end of their contract. Their cases are debated among supporters, and even within the club. Some believe that the time has come for change and new faces in the Marseille workforce. The left side is having a tough season because of numerous injuries. But Sampaoli is convinced that Amavi has the ideal profile to play in his system as a left piston.
Regarding Florian Thauvin, the OM coach likes his offensive qualities, his mentality, his efficiency in the last pass or in front of goal. He believes that it will be very difficult to replace him, and that it would be very damaging to see this player go free. Sampaoli is counting on the 2018 world champion, and has let him know. For his part, the player thinks, and waits to see the concrete offers that reach him. Two foreign clubs have already offered him a contract.
But according to OM’s financial proposal, which could offer him a long-term contract, and given the good relations he has with Longoria and Sampaoli, Thauvin is increasingly tempted by the prospect of staying in Marseille. Especially if the coach continues to give him this confidence, and OM builds an attractive squad. Thauvin and Amavi are the only players at the end of their contract that Sampaoli plans to extend.
OM met Milik’s agents to discuss the future
There remains a thorny case: that of Arkadiusz Milik. Jorge Sampaoli has not given up hope of retaining the Polish striker. Pablo Longoria received Milik’s agents at the end of last week at the Commanderie. The idea was to study the conditions that OM could offer to the Polish striker, if he stays in Marseille.
But the situation is always the same: in the event of an offer from a major European club, such as Juventus, OM will let the player go. Sampaoli is forcing his side to try to convince him to stay at OM, and make him – over time – the great striker that Marseille expects.
However, the leaders of OM are not necessarily in a strong position on this issue. Longoria will keep his word and respect this « gentlemen’s agreement » if a big club covets it, and will be resigned to seeing Milik leave Marseille, barely six months after his arrival.
Caleta-Car and Kamara will leave if serious offers arise
On the departures side, some players have an exit door. In the event of an attractive offer, Sampaoli and Longoria will not retain Duje Caleta-Car. The Croatian player, annoyed not to have been transferred to Liverpool this winter, hopes that the Reds will return to the charge and dreams of England.
The Argentine technician greatly appreciates the qualities of Bouba Kamara, but he will be THE big market value for OM this summer. In the event of a transfer which could not be refused, Marseille will bow, Sampaoli is aware of it, this subject has been raised with the management of OM.
The future of some players like Dario Benedetto or Hiroki Sakaï remains on stand-by and will depend on any offers or whether or not they wish to continue the adventure in Marseille. All without having the guarantee of being a holder under Sampaoli, who appreciates their profile, without making them priority players in his eyes.