What strategy for Marseille in the transfer window? Pablo Longoria facing his puzzles

For Pablo Longoria, it is already time to (re) prove himself. Patron of the Olympique de Marseille for a little less than a year, the Spaniard had passed a first test last summer, when he played his networks to rebuild the team. Particularly expected in terms of recruitment, his specialty, the leader had successfully completed his first transfer window. Correct if not brilliant, the club’s sports results have, for the moment, validated the strategy of the former sports director. But the coming weeks and months will allow us to judge it on a different basis. And a little more perilous.

Gifted at finding short-term solutions and increasing the average level of its workforce, Longoria will now have to be skillful and creative in order not to suffer the other side of the coin. During his first transfer window with full powers, the boss of OM had exploited all the resources to satisfy his trainer, Jorge Sampaoli, with whom he communicates very regularly.

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Financially, he had kept no room for maneuver, investing around fifty million euros to complete dry transfers (Gerson, Luan Peres, Konrad de la Fuente, Bamba Dieng), and exercise purchase options (Pol Lirola , Leonardo Balerdi). Strategically, he had also and above all greatly benefited from loans, paying (Pau Lopez, Cengiz Ünder) or not (Guendouzi, Saliba, Harit).

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Mid-season, the range of possibilities appears more limited. The payroll and transfer allowances of the Marseille club are still closely monitored by the DCNG, the financial policeman of professional clubs. Frank McCourt, who keeps putting his hand in his pocket to cover part of the significant structural deficit (60 million over the previous year) of the Marseille entity, demanded from the president an entry of around thirty million euros on this only winter transfer window.

A building site in defense … and holes this summer?

In other words, Marseille must sell at market price and recruit at cost price, while taking care to keep a balance, since Longoria like its trainer, Jorge Sampaoli, want all positions to remain doubled. Sportingly, Marseille has urgent needs. « Behind, we are looking for the left flank the counterpart of Pol Lirola but also a left axial similar to Luan Peres« , considered the Spanish technician. Jordan Amavi loaned with option to buy in Nice, the Olympian management could afford the experienced and versatile Sead Kolasinac if Arsenal decides to release him six months from the end of his contract.

Alvaro Gonzalez pushed out according to our colleagues from The team, the defensive sector should therefore quickly become a vast site. Next June, William Saliba – one of the best Marseillais this season – will return to London. And Duje Caleta-Car has regained an attractive market value since enjoying the confidence of his coach.

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Capital for OM, loans risk quickly leaving holes in the workforce … and in the coffers. The options to buy Pau Lopez (12 million euros), Mattéo Guendouzi (11 million) and Cengiz Ünder (8.5 million) being almost automatic, the Marseille club will approach next summer with a nice slate, more of 30 million euros, even if all these amounts could be smoothed over several years in order to lighten the balance sheets. Other bonuses, linked to Gerson’s arrivals (up to 4 million euros according to The team) and Lirola (6.5 million euros) could weigh down the balance.

Milik, the obscure case

Longoria is therefore not entitled to the casting error, and Sampaoli to the mishap. Qualification for the next Champions League, via the championship, once again has the power of life or death over the umpteenth project of the McCourt era. The management of the Boubacar Kamara case, who has still not extended his contract at OM, and now free to engage with the club of his choice, could be decisive.

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Dario Benedetto on the verge of returning to Argentina for a bite of bread, the other loaned Nemanja Radonjic and Kevin Strootman should not fill the boxes since their adventures in Portugal (Benfica) and Italy (Cagliari) have come to an end. And apart from Caleta-Car, with whom it will be very difficult anyway to generate a possible capital gain (he landed for 19 million euros in 2018), only Bamba Dieng has an interesting market value.

Longoria may have already anticipated a future sale of the Senegalese, rushing on the former Sochalien Cédric Bakambu. Unless the Congolese is actually the successor of Arkadiusz Milik, whom we still do not know if he finally belongs to OM. Or if his departure next summer is already scheduled. Keeping it a secret is another specialty of Pablo Longoria.

Pablo Longoria, President of OM

Credit: Imago

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