Marseille’s Summer Expenditure Continues As They Sign Ismaïla Sarr
Olympique Marseille have secured the services of Watford forward Ismaïla Sarr for a cut price fee of £12 million to go alongside a host of other impressive buys.
The Senegalese forward spent four years at the Hornets but another season of Championship football was not on the player’s mind so he decided to seek pastures new in Ligue 1.
Sarr primarily lines up on the right wing as part of a three-man front line and under new head coach Marcelino who prefers a 4-3-3, this could be a match made in heaven.
With pace and skill in abundance, Sarr will fit Marcelino’s counter-attacking philosophy very well. He also does not shy away from the defensive side of the game which will be important in the out-of-possession phase of play.
With 10 goals and six assists in the Championship last term, Sarr has a knack for goal contributions and this will be needed at the Stade Velodrome where anything but a top-three finish will be seen as unacceptable.
Having finished a strong third last season under Igor Tudor, the Marseille faithful have Champions League football to look forward to. Sarr has yet to make an appearance in the club game’s top competition so will need to step up and provide his side with attacking verve.
After links to the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea in seasons gone by, Sarr may feel a move away from Watford should have come earlier, but with a resurgent Marseille on the rise, he may have chosen the perfect project to get his career back on track.
Marseille have also had to replace the 14 league goals scored by Alexis Sanchez and have done so by signing well-travelled forward Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang from Chelsea on a free transfer.
The Gabon international has come off the back of a disastrous stint in London but will be eager to prove he still has something to offer at the top of European football.
Just like Sarr, Aubamyang started his career in Ligue 1 and will be looking to recapture his electric form that took him to the heights of Premier League Golden Boot Winner at Arsenal.
In terms of tactics, Aubamyang will probably line up at centre forward with Sarr on the right and one of Amine Harit or Cengiz Under on the left in a very fast frontline.
In defence, Marseille moved quickly to secure the services of Renan Lodi in a £12 million deal from Atletico Madrid. The Brazilian left-back will be the replacement for the impressive Nuno Tavares who leaves after a stellar campaign on loan from Arsenal.
Having spent last season on loan in the Premier League with Nottingham Forest, Lodi proved he is astute defensively but can also offer an outlet down the left due to his pace.
With his all-action style, he is sure to become a fan favourite in France if he continues in the same way. One drawback, however, is that he plays his best football in a back four and not in a back five which has become customary at Marseille recently.
In the last couple of seasons, the Marseille recruitment board have made a habit of buying players who are out of favour such as Sanchez, Under, Jordan Veretout and Matteo Guendouzi and making them into vital first-team players.
This trend looks likely to have continued with the purchase of Geoffrey Kondogbia from Atletico Madrid. The defensive midfielder completely fell out of favour last season in Madrid and only made 20 league appearances.
With Veretout, Guendouzi and Valentin Rongier already lining up in midfield, it will be no easy task to get into the team.
However, he arguably played the best football of his career under Marcelino at Valencia and nobody in the team has his ball-winning capabilities.
To complete the six players that have joined so far this summer are Amine Harit and Ruslan Malinovskyi who made their loan moves permanent.
With a policy in recent seasons of signing lots of players, Marseille look set to continue that with six already brought and seven players already departed. Having qualified for the Champions League for the second consecutive season, this short-term policy may be the secret to Marseille’s success.