With the delayed arrival of new manager Marcelo Bielsa, many wondered how long it would take OM to get going into the transfer market. But within the last week Marseille have announced 2 new signings: Romain Alessandrini from Rennes and Michy Batsuhayi from Standard Liege.
But it’s clear that Bielsa has been doing his research as well as taking info from his assistant Diego Reyes and the clubs hierarchy about who will be staying and leaving from the current crop of players and which areas need strengthening. That said, most will hope that OM make a move for a couple of defenders soon too.
The first signing was Marseille native Romain Alessandrini from Rennes for around 5m euros.
It’s been no secret that Marseille, perhaps specifically Labrune, have been after Alessandrini for some time now. They were linked with him last summer, but had also been tracking him when he initially signed for Rennes in 2012. The 25 year old is an attacking midfielder who can dribble well, cut in and shoot as well as take set-pieces. After a lengthy injury that ruled him out of the end of 12-13 season and beginning of 13-14 he returned and still managed 6 goals and 6 assists in 27 games, admittedly taking a while to feel his rhythm again.
In his first season at Rennes he set ligue 1 alight with scintillating performances, terrorising defences up and down France. Before his cruciate knee injury he’d managed to amass 10 goals and 5 assists in 22 games, but more importantly had been continually improving as was knocking on the door of the French national team.
Alessandrini told OM.net ‘I am very proud and I am very happy to sign today. We have big objectives for this season. It’s a big club, I will do all I can and give them the best possible’.
His arrival is hugely exciting for Marseille, as they have another of the ligue’s most exciting young French players at their disposal. With Bielsa at the helm, hopefully Alessandrini will continue to improve and refine his technique. The down side to the move is that it suggests to most that it will spell the end for one of Marseille’s more experienced attacking options, either Mathieu Valbuena or Andre Ayew. After both have managed excellent World Cups, it seems highly probable that OM will cash in on at least one of them.
Our second signing, Michy Batsuhayi, is probably a lesser known player in France, but the 20 year old Belgian striker arrives from Standard Liege with impressive statistics and was the stand by striker for the Belgium World Cup team.
In 36 appearances last season he netted 21 goals for Liege, making him 2nd top scorer in the Belgian Jupiler League (39 in 97 in total). But what about the player behind the stats? This is what Anne Ruwet (journalist for Standard TV & RTL Sport) and Stephane Pauwels (former manager, and recruiter for Valenciennes and Monaco now working with TF1, RTL, TVI & RMC) had to say on the player.
‘He has talent that is undeniable. He has great technical expertise, he can beat opponents in tight spaces and score from impossible angles. He can use both feet, a hard shot and is very fast with the ball. If I was manager of a foreign club, Michy is one of the few players in the Belgian league I would buy. He can be one of the best in Europe if he is well surrounded. He needs support and confidence from a manager, who can set specific rules and be strict, as he had a few problems at Liege.’ (link to original article)
The problems mentioned are a few run-ins with Liege fans and also the Belgium coach Johan Valem. He also had a confrontation with Ibrahima Cisse after inviting some young women back to the players’ hotel. But, if it’s support, structure and guidance Michy needs then Bielsa and he could be a perfect match. As part of the above interview, Ruwet and Pauwels, highlight Michy’s weakness in the air, but also that this is an area that the player is keen to improve. They also don’t see him as a replacement for Gignac, but someone who can complement him instead.
Given that APG has been linked with moves elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how Bielsa lines up his squad in friendlies, as it could be suggested that Gignac and Michy would be best suited as a joint strike force in an attacking two. This is different to the 4-2-3-1 formation the squad played with last season, but as most readers will know, Bielsa doesn’t conform to ‘normal’ formations or disciplines. He has been known to play an ultra-disciplined 3-3-1-3 which alters between a defensive 5-3-2 to an attacking 3-6-1, which could utilise both Gignac and Michy.
Whatever the outcome, the start of the summer has been a good one for OM, let’s hope that it continues!
(@MarseilleUK & @aswanny84)