Last season, Marseille finished as runners-up in Ligue 1, the second time they have achieved that position in the past three years.
However, they don’t always fare too well as runners-ups. Since last winning the title in 2009/10, Marseille have finished second four times (including last season) and their follow-up campaigns have been poor. Their other second-place seasons were 2010/11, 2012/13 and 2019/20. In the subsequent seasons, they finished 10th, sixth and fifth, respectively.
So can they make 2022/23 any different? It hasn’t been the most harmonious of summers at Marseille. Manager Jorge Sampaoli quit over a lack of action in the summer transfer window in early July, by which point Marseille had added to their squad by making three loan moves permanent but had really only signed two new players.
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Now, though, Marseille are on nine signings overall and counting (they have been linked to forgotten Chelsea midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko and Arsenal defender Nuno Tavares) as they look to reinforce for the Champions League group stage and any potential Ligue 1 title push under replacement boss Igor Tudor.
And here they are…
We start with one of the loan moves that was made permanent, as Pau Lopez officially became a Marseille player. This move was actually agreed in January (but wouldn’t be official until July) so it’s easy to see why Sampaoli might not have counted Pau Lopez’s arrival as a new summer signing. Initially joining on loan from Roma last summer, Lopez played 28 times for Marseille in Ligue 1 last season, keeping 10 clean sheets and making 57 saves.
Another loan move made permanent, Arkadiusz Milik’s arrival at Marseille was set in stone following his switch from Napoli, with an obligation to buy this summer. The 28-year-old Polish striker didn’t have the best start to life in France, not making his Ligue 1 debut until October due to injury. Still, he managed to be directly involved in nine goals last season (0.57 per 90 minutes) playing a more supporting role to Dimitri Payet.
While Matteo Guendouzi did spend last season on loan at Marseille, his move wasn’t actually made permanent until July. In fact, it became official on the day of Sampaoli’s departure, making him the first arrival after the Argentine left. It was a deal that had reportedly been in the works for a few months after Guendouzi thrived in the Marseille midfield on loan from Arsenal, missing just one game in Ligue 1. He was also more attacking at Marseille than Arsenal fans might have expected, scoring four goals and recording six assists while also creating 36 chances and completing 572 passes in the final third, second only to Lionel Messi in Ligue 1 last season.
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A South American striker leaving his La Liga club who played in red and white, Luis Suarez has signed for Marseille. Not that one though. The Colombian Suarez, formerly of Watford, had a decent season for Granada in 2021/22, scoring eight goals and recording four assists.
But his efforts weren’t enough to prevent his side from relegation, thanks in part to their defence and inability to turn draws into wins. According to reports, Suarez had previously been a target for Marseille in 2020 after thriving in Spain’s second tier with Real Zaragoza, so they will certainly be happy to finally get their man.
Did someone order a loan signing made permanent? What, Marseille did again? Cengiz Under joined Marseille on loan from Roma last season at the same time as his teammate Pau Lopez and had a pretty decent season in Ligue 1, scoring 10 goals while providing a further three assists. Unlike Lopez, Marseille waited a little longer to make Under’s move permanent, reportedly triggering the clause in April.
Jonathan Clauss was a name on the lips of many football fans over the summer, being linked with a number of clubs after his excellent season with Lens – which also increased the popularity of the four special cards he received on FIFA 22 Ultimate Team. Clauss missed just one game for Lens in Ligue 1 last season and was directly involved in 16 goals, scoring five and recording a further 11 assists. This was the fourth-most in the league, where only Benjamin Bourigeaud and Dimitri Payet created more chances than Clauss’ 74.
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From: Le Havre
For some, the arrival of Isaak Toure proved that Marseille were giving up on signing William Saliba permanently, reportedly a driving factor in Sampaoli’s decision to step away. The teenage centre-back only became part of Le Havre’s first team last season, playing 17 times in Ligue 2 with 12 starts.
From: Celta Vigo
With Steve Mandanda leaving for Rennes, Marseille needed another goalkeeper to provide back-up for Lopez and it appears that will be Ruben Blanco. The 27-year-old played understudy at Celta Vigo last season after losing his spot as No.1 due the injury the year before, making just two appearances in the Copa del Rey. He’ll be hoping for more luck in France.
Former Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba is still only 27 and joins Marseille as a league winner, having been part of Porto’s successful Primeira Liga side in 2021/22. Mbemba was a big part of Porto’s defence, playing 31 times in the league en route to the title as they lost just once in the final weeks of the season. After his contract at Porto ran out, Mbemba had been linked with a Premier League return with Nottingham Forest, but it was Marseille who won the race for his signature.