It’s fair to say this season isn’t going to plan for Marseille.
The French club are sixth in Ligue 1 and have had a disastrous run in the Europa League.
The club’s transfer chief Andoni Zubizarreta has a lot of plates to keep spinning and whilst the current situation always gets the most coverage, looking after the future is a big part of his job.
One problem clubs like Marseille face is losing their youth products earlier and earlier, and sometimes missing out on signing them altogether. English clubs are getting in there quicker, and Zubi was asked by L’Equipe what he can do to fight Marseille’s corner.
“Money has transformed football, for sure, and now we are even talking about a market of very young players, even if I have trouble with this term “market”. We must remain solid, show the player that there is a real vision and prospects up to Ligue 1, or even higher. We have two models: “Bouba” (Kamara)who started at the football school and “Max” (Lopez) who came from Burel, one of our partners.
“There will always be a club that will pay more than you, especially in England. Not to mention Manchester City, we cannot compete against clubs like West Ham. So we have to offer something else to the kids. Max had gone for a test in Liverpool, younger. He saw forty players like him, something to be afraid of for the youngsters.”
The former Barcelona technical director will be using the example of West Ham, because he’ll feel that Marseille are a bigger club in France than the Hammers are in England, and yet still there’s little chance of competing financially.
West Ham fans would likely point to the disruption Marseille caused around Dimitri Payet before eventually taking him back to France in a big money transfer which has since had its ups and downs.
Maxi Lopez snubbing Liverpool is an often told story in French football as an example for young players who have been afraid of disappearing in the English system.
In 2017, the player himself explained: “For me, Marseille is my family. I’ve been here for seven years. If I didn’t leave for Liverpool three years ago, it’s because I’m very happy here, I’m at home, I know everyone at this club.”
At 20 years of age, Lopez has more than 60 appearances for Marseille and is regularly in the team, he must have felt such progression would have been difficult if up against more competition at Anfield.