Olympique de Marseille finished the 2022/23 season with a bittersweet sensation in their mouths. After a second-place finish under Jorge Sampaoli, Marseille would finish bottom in their Champions League group, lose in the Coupe de France quarterfinals on penalties to second-tier Annecy, and finish third in the Ligue 1 table, 11 points behind Lens and 12 behind PSG, advancing to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League where they will face Greek side Panathinaikos. They have parted ways with manager Igor Tudor after a year and appointed Marcelino, and they have been busy at work in the transfer market to ensure that they can challenge on all fronts under the Spaniard.
Marseille fans were ecstatic to announce the signing of Iliman Ndiaye from Sheffield United for €17 million. After a successful campaign in the English Championship, the 23-year-old hopes to fill the goal void created by some of the departures this window. His ability to play as a midfielder and a forward will be useful for Marseille.
Ndiaye has had an impressive journey and this transfer validates him even further as a player. He went from non-league to Sheffield, before playing for Senegal at the World Cup. At only 23, he still has lots to prove, and Marseille will offer him this chance with top-flight football and European competitions.
He is an extremely technical player who combines his innate skill with his creativity to maneuver out of any situation. He also has great playmaker abilities with his creative passing skills. Ndiaye scored 15 goals and assisted 12 times in 52 appearances last season. This is a fantastic signing by Olympique de Marseille as they get an emerging talent and Ndiaye gets an opportunity to prove his quality at the top level.
Throughout the course of his young career, Sarr has been linked with Premier League clubs for a relatively large transfer sum of around €50m. However, Marseille have managed to steal the signature of the Senegalese winger for only €13m due to him entering the final year of his contract. Last season in the 39 games Sarr featured in he scored 10 goals and assisted 6 times.
Sarr is a rapid winger, with the ability to beat anyone with pace also thrives at quick changes of direction making him a challenge for any defender. He usually beats his defender down the line, before providing a composed pass into the box for his teammates to finish, and he provides versatility to Marseille’s attack with the ability to play anywhere across the front three, and he should provide a much-needed dose of unpredictability following the departures of Dimitri Payet and Alexis Sanchez.
After spending last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, the Brazilian makes the move to France where the 25-year-old looks to continue to develop. Last season with the defensive struggles of Nottingham Forest, Lodi was forced to play defensively. However, at Marseille Lodi will be able to play as more of a wing-back or winger since Marseille have been playing a 3-back formation under Marcelino.
While his stats last season were very underwhelming, at Athletico Madrid during the 2021-2022 season he was a very attacking outside back. Marcelino acknowledges this, and hopes in his system he can get this attacking style of football back. Lodi was very good at carrying the ball forward, up the pitch before looking for a cross into the box. According to FBRef, he averaged .30 goals and assists per 90 placing him in the 92 percentile compared to all fullbacks.
Lodi hopes to revert more to his attacking ways, despite being a good defender and help Olympique Marseille thrive next season. A return to European competitions was crucial and for only €13m, Marseille have pulled off a massive bargain here.
After arriving on loan in January from Atalanta, Malinovskyi joins on a permanent deal for €10 million after featuring 20 times in Ligue 1, failing to manage a goal or assist. As a playmaker, Malinovskyi excels at successful take-ons, with a percentage of 64.3% completed. This places him in the 99th percentile of all attacking midfielders/wingers.
Malinovskyi also possesses the ability to score from distance, especially with his thunderous left foot. He also is very good at putting chances on a platter for his teammates to finish. While having a great passing vision and a general understanding of the game, Malinovskyi is able to use his technical finesse to perfectly weight his passes, although it appears that he could be headed for an early departure with Torino and Besiktas looking to sign the Ukraine international.
Another player making the move from the Spanish capital to Marseille, Geoffrey Kondogbia looks to have a successful move to France. At 30 years old, Konogbia has passed his prime, yet the center midfielder could prove to be a key signing for Marseille. While only playing 20 times in La Liga last season, Kondogbia showed his value shining as a defensive midfielder. Diego Simeone’s play style is very defensive, counter-attacking football and Kondogbia showed his defensive acumen. Standing at 1,88m Kondogbia has the physical presence to dominate any midfield and along with his incredible passing in technical ability, Kondogbia is a true box-to-box midfielder.
Kondogbia will be vital to Marseille’s midfield, adding a physical presence that it previously lacked. With the ability to win aerial duels combined with his rapid acceleration, Kondogbia will be perfect to protect the normal back three Marcelino plays with. Kondogbia also brings in a veteran presence and will hope to mentor the younger players in the squad.
After being on loan at Marseille, Amine Harit finally joins on a permanent deal from FC Schalke 04. The former wonderkid has struggled since leaving FC Nantes, appearing in only 10 league games last season, he was unable to score but scored once and assisted twice in the Champions League.
While game time is hard to come by, in his limited time on the pitch, Harit has done well. A very progressive player, Harit looks to break the defensive lines whether that is by passing to a teammate or receiving a pass, he also looks to break the line with his dribbling skill. Harit averaged 6.23 progressive passes per 90 minutes placing him in the 94th percentile in comparison to all other attacking midfielders and wingers.
Aubameyang looks to be the next aging striker to turn his career around playing for Olympique de Marseille. At 34 years of age, Aubameyang joins Marseille following stints at Arsenal, Barcelona, and Chelsea. With Marseille losing a lot of their attacking power from last season, signing Aubameyang on a free transfer just makes sense.
With limited game time in his last couple stints, it can be hard to know what Aubameyang will bring to Olympique de Marseille. At Dortmund, Aubameyang would use his rapid pace, size, and elite finishing ability to make the defense look silly. At 34 years of age, he may just be a shell of his former self, but Marseille are hoping to get the best out of him.
Olympique Marseille are losing quite a few individuals this offseason, including a lot of attacking players. They have done their best to replace them but some of the experience, quality, and nostalgia of some of the departing players are irreplaceable. Two aging attackers in Dimitri Payet and Alexis Sanchez have left the Velodrome after the expiry of their contracts, with Payet’s exit a real changing of the guard for OM. Sporting director Pablo Longoria has ruled out a new move for Sanchez, who is still a free agent, although he has hinted at making another move for a fullback this summer.
Marseille have also lost significant players in the back as well as two of their key loanees in Eric Bailly and Nuno Tavares who both joined from Premier League sides. While Arsenal loanee Nuno Tavares has been replaced with the signing of Renan Lodi, Eric Bailly’s replacement is Isaak Toure who returns from loan. Another center back would help solidify the defense, and signing a veteran player would be a valuable addition to Marseille’s squad.
The general theme of players departing the squad is aging veterans with players like Sead Kolasinac, Kevin Strootman, and Arkadiusz Milik leaving. Marseille are hoping to bring in future talent who are younger in hopes of developing them into the next generations of stars at the Velodrome, and they may just have what it takes to return to second place and leapfrog Lens in the table, and maybe, just maybe, give Paris Saint-Germain a run for their money in the Ligue 1 title race.
By: Jackson Maynard / @JacksonMaynar17
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Oscar Del Pozo – AFP