Transfer markets, friendlies, Tudor… because the start of the OM summer is not reassuring

After seeing Jorge Sampaoli slam the door two days after resuming training, Olympique de Marseille are going through delicate preparation. If the truth of summer is far from being that of autumn, the beginning of the Phocians is not the most reassuring. In many ways.

Friday 1 July, two days before Olympique de Marseille’s return to training. Summer has just begun when the Marseille club, accustomed to earthquakes of all kinds, will suffer a roar of thunder: dissatisfied with the start of the Olympic transfer window, Jorge Sampaoli slams the door one year after his contract expires. Meanwhile, Pablo Longoria organizes a press conference to record the departure of the Argentine coach. A smile is a must and the speech of the Marseille president borrows respect for what he brought in just under a year and a half ago. But, behind the serenity shown, the OM boss knows without a doubt that he is about to experience a very delicate summer.

Less than a month after the episode of Sampaoli, the start of the preparation for the French vice champions does not give any hope for optimism. In four friendlies, OM achieved only one victory, against Marignane-Gignac, club N2, in their first meeting (4-1). Since then, Dimitri Payet’s team-mates have suffered two rather difficult setbacks against England’s D2 formations (3-0 v Norwich, 2-0 v Middlesbrough), before being joined in the closing seconds this Wednesday by the Betis Sevilla (1-1). Against the Andalusians a slight improvement in the game could be observed and, in sequence, the Olympians were quite attractive. Friendlies require caution and it is impossible to draw definitive lessons. But the same difficulties seen since the beginning of the “Summer Tour” – defensive wanderings, difficulty in scoring (only one goal in three games since the initial victory against Marignane-Gignac) – are again evident.

A very different game philosophy to integrate and a workforce not yet final

Igor Tudor landed on Canebière with a very different playing philosophy from that of his predecessor. With an obsession with possession of Sampaoli, the Croatian coach prefers a much more vertical game and this change of ideology takes time to adapt to the players. Learning these new methods – and the severity of the former Hellas Verona manager – would even have been at the origin of a fight between Tudor and Gerson in training, according to La Provence. An episode undoubtedly to put in perspective, but which illustrates well the delicate period in which the OMs find themselves.

If there was better against Betis, a sign that Tudor’s speech is probably taking the place of his players, it will undoubtedly still be necessary to integrate new elements in the team by the end of the summer. After a long stalemate, the Olympic transfer window got a big boost in mid-July with the arrivals of Chancel Mbemba, Jonathan Clauss, Luis Suarez and Ruben Blanco, to which must be added those of Samuel Gigot (completed this winter) and Isaac Touré.

However, changes to the squad have yet to be made and OM struggles to find a left midfielder and piston. Several avenues leading to experienced players in midfield to compensate for Kamara’s departure (Witsel, Veretout) have been cited with insistence, but have not yet been realized. As for the corridor player, Marseille thought they had the right armband in Darko Lazovic’s card, but the Verona ds recently flooded the optimism of the Olympic leaders.

Since the start of the low season, Pablo Longoria has repeatedly stated that it will take patience to sign market successes. But ten days from the first day of Ligue 1 against Reims (Sunday 7 August at 8.45 pm) and at the dawn of a start to the season that promises to be crazy with the Champions League, having completed the staff as soon as possible, it could be only advantageous.

McCourt’s impatience

In terms of departures, the next few weeks are also expected to be decisive. Recently, La Provence reported on Frank McCourt’s annoyance with low sales. Since the start of the transfer window, the OM has recovered € 1.5 million for the sale of Lucas Perrin to Strasbourg, where he was on loan with a redemption option. For their part, Steve Mandanda and Boubacar Kamara left the club free of any contract, while Nemanja Radonjic was loaned to Torino, one year after the contract expired. Just like Luis Henrique at Botafogo, whose almost automatic purchase option could be exercised at the end of the season and offer 8 million to the Olympic club (which had spent this amount to recruit him in 2020). In the process of completing the transfer of Luan Peres, the Marseille staff would also push Bamba Dieng towards the exit.

The fate reserved for the Senegalese striker, considered by Tudor behind Milik, Suarez, Bakambu and Payet in the forward hierarchy, has somewhat irritated the Marseille fans in the last hours. Of course, the victories in Ligue 1 and a good start in the Champions League at the beginning of the school year (the first day will take place on 6 and 7 September) would immediately make OM lovers forget this tumultuous start of preparation. But, in the event of a negative spiral in the league and a poor entry into the delicate matter in C1, difficult to forgive given the sad face exhibited in the most beautiful of club competitions during the latest OM campaigns, the 2022 season is underway. -2023 could be that of all dangers for Tudor.

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