On the face of it, we are very strong in goal. STEVE MANDANDA is the best goalkeeper at the club and has been fantastic in the Marseille goal since he joined from Le Havre in 2008, although he has made a few errors in the games he has played for the club so far this season. YOHANN PELE is a good back up keeper, as after a successful 18 month spell at Sochaux he joined Marseille in the summer and hopefully he can be reliable when and if he is called upon this season. Personally, having three goalkeepers in the squad is important to me, and with someone as NICOLAS DOUCHEZ on the market for free after his release by PSG, we may be looking at bringing him in.
Mandanda is one of the best goalkeeper’s in the league and Pele would be first choice at quite a few of the clubs in Ligue 1 so 4 stars is very much deserved.
At full back we seem to be very strong. BRICE DJA DJEDJE and JAVI MANQUILLO are both good right backs. Manquillo is of course at Marseille on a two year loan deal from Atletico Madrid so the question is whether or not to give him first team football when Dja Djedje is the better right back at the minute. When you throw in to the equation that we also have MAURICIO ISLA, the competition at right back is very fierce. At left back, again we seem strong on paper, but PAOLO DE CEGLIE is much more suited to a left midfield role, so the on loan Juventus man may find his opportunities limited, especially if BENJAMIN MENDY develops into the player he should do, as he will be the first choice left back.
Was torn between giving our full backs a 3 star rating or a 2 and a half rating, just because we only really have one left back who is a left back through and through, but De Ceglie will still hopefully do a job for us when asked. At right back, using Isla’s experience and ability would have been great but Dja Djedje and Manquillo are younger and playing them more consistently will hopefully be more beneficial for Marseille moving forward.
In the center of our defence we were rocked by Nicolas Nkoulou’s departure, and he will be a massive loss. However there is in theory a lot of quality still there. LOIC PERRIN has been added to the mix, and he will bring with him lots of experience and quality, and his suitability to the ball playing defender role is good news meaning we have at least one defender who can move the ball out from defence calmly and also quickly when we want to launch attacks. KARIM REKIK was bought in by the previous regime and hopefully we can make Man City regret allowing him to leave. Makelele rates ROLANDO quite highly however my confidence in the Portuguese defender has been rocked during the early parts of the season as he has made quite a few errors and his discipline has been quite poor. STEPHANE SPARAGNA was initially sent out on loan to AC Ajaccio but after Nkoulou’s departure, he was bought back to add more youth to the squad, and some cover if and when we need it. The other man who can play at centre back is Alaixys Romao, who adds some steel, although he is better at playing in defensive midfield, although with the options we have at defensive midfield he isn’t likely to get much game plan there.
Would have loved to have given our central defenders a higher rating but a lot of the quality in the centre of our defence will be evident in the future. Loic Perrin and Rolando are both very highly rated but Rolando has not performed too well in the opening phases of the season, but has had to play as Karim Rekik has been filling in at left back after injuries to Benjamin Mendy and Paolo De Ceglie. Rekik looks like he is going to be a very good player, and has impressed wherever he has been asked to play. Sparagna hasn’t played much either but has been impressive when he has played and hopefully he can develop more and become a bit more of a valuable asset to this squad.
Our defensive midfielders will play a massive part in any success we have this season as they will need to protect our central defence. LASSANA DIARRA is a man full of experience and he has stepped up to the plate in the early phases of the season, and hopefully he can continue his fine form moving forwards. LUCAS SILVA is another player for the future, although that will be at Real Madrid unless we can secure his signing on a permanent basis. But so far he has excelled, barring one little error. Can also play a little bit further forward as a playmaker in the central midfield positions so if needed to he can be called upon.
It is hard not to rate Lassana Diarra and Lucas Silva highly as both players are already playing well especially as new signings at the club. Lassana Diarra has been first choice so far but Lucas definitely has the quality to push him out of the team, especially if he continues to excel like he has done so far this season.
Whilst we may look strong in the centre of midfield, unfortunately the ratings are deceitful. Whilst MARVIN MARTIN and ABDELAZIZ BARRADA can play in the centre, both are much more suited to the attacking midfield role. Having said that both Martin and Barrada have been impressive when called upon to play in the centre so hopefully that can continue long into the season. ABOU DIABY could be a strong addition in the centre of midfield by the previous regime but he has so far been very injury prone and has missed a fair bit of action, although, again he has been impressive in the limited amount of game time he has made this season.
Unfortunately we are lacking somewhat in the centre of midfield as Abou Diaby is our only recognised central midfielder. If we have the funds this may be something that needs addressing the January transfer window, although with Lucas Silva being able to play here, and Barrada being relatively good in a central midfield role, signing someone new may not necessarily be needed.
This is the area of the pitch where personally I think we are strongest. BOUNA SARR and GEORGES-KEVIN NKOUDOU are both young and look likely to become quality players in the future if they are given the time to develop. Both have been highly impressive whenever they played during the pre-season, Sarr grabbing a hat trick, and although game time in competitive matches has been limited so far they’re both likely to become quality members of our first team squad. ROMAIN ALESSANDRINI has been brilliant for Marseille since he arrived from Stade Rennais in the summer of 2014, and when he has played under my stewardship so far he has not failed to impress adding quality and class to proceedings up front. REMY CABELLA didn’t have the best of seasons last year at Newcastle and has been injured so far this season so hasn’t featured massively. As part of the deal that saw Florian Thauvin head the other way, hopefully Cabella can help replace the outgoing Thauvin and play a big part in our season from his preferred right win position. LUCAS OCAMPOS is a player that has been doubted as a future star for a while now but never really hit it off at AS Monaco despite them changing their approach last season to try and develop more youngsters. However this season whenever he has played out on the left or the right wing he has been fantastic and added a few goals during pre-season.
Every player we have in these positions has the potential to be something special for Marseille this year. We have started the season with Lucas Ocampos on the right and Alessandrini on the left but hopefully when Remy Cabella returns from injury he can slot easily on to the right flank. Having said that, I do feel as though it could be crucial for this team to use the likes of Nkoudou and Sarr so that they can become the players theyre forecast to become as in 2/3 years time they could be the stars of the show.
Overall I think we have two very good forwards in this team. MICHY BATSHUAYI has the potential to be something special, he’s young and is enthusiasm should be able to help him score a hatful of goals for us. Hopefully his youth will also see him be able to cope with the demands of the role we want him to play in this team, and hopefully he can adapt to be a quality player in those positions. As for MAURO ZARATE his work rate in the games he has played for us so far has been excellent and although he hasn’t managed to find the net in the Ligue 1 games we’ve played so far, he has come close on numerous occasions and his goal tally will start rising soon I have no doubts about it. He’s come here from a poor spell at West Ham where he has barely played so for him to come in and play as well as he has been doing after a limited amount of football is very commendable. Only have two strikers is quite concerning though, as already Michy Batshuayi has picked up an injury and missed games, so it would be nice to have another striker available. Now that the transfer window has shut, one player who is available on a free is former Tottenham striker EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR. He previously played for AS Monaco and FC Metz in Ligue 1 too, and it was this spell in Ligue where he scored 33 goals which really saw him break out on the European scene, so he is somebody that we may well pursue in the coming months to boost our options up front.
I firmly believe that Michy Batshuayi and Mauro Zarate could score a lot of goals for us this season as they are both very good players, and Michy Batshuayi has the potential to develop into something extra special. The rating for our forwards would have been much higher however if we had an extra man to call on, which is why bringing someone like Adebayor into the club could boost us a lot, as he has a track record of scoring goals both in Ligue 1 and in the Premier League.
Overall Squad Rating:
We have a very good squad here in general. We do lack for reinforcements in soon area. I would have preferred for a more solid central defence, as Rolando has been somewhat disappointing in the early parts of the season but with the injuries suffered to Mendy and De Ceglie, Rolando has had to play with Rekik being forced to be deployed out on the left wing. In midfield though we look pretty solid in the defensive midfield roles and out wide in the wing positions. Another central midfielder would be a useful addition, although if Marvin Martin and Abdelaziz Barrada can step up then we could be quite strong. Again, up front we are good but we probably do need another forward which is why Emmanuel Adebayor is being looked at.