First Gerson and Guendouzi, next Saliba – how Marseille can afford their summer signings

Robin Bairner
Arsenal's Matteo Guendouzi has signed on loan for Ligue 1 side Marseille

Marseille have conducted one of the most impressive summer transfer windows in Ligue 1 to date, overhauling their squad in a matter of weeks to get themselves primed for the new season.

Sporting director Pablo Longoria has won praise from OM supporters for the manner in which the club has been able to conduct its transfer dealings.

Gerson, at €25 million from Flamengo, has been the most eye-catching signing, but several other impressive deals have been conducted. Matteo Guendouzi has arrived on loan from Arsenal, while it seems that William Saliba will follow from the Gunners. Similarly, Cengiz Under has joined from Roma.

Meanwhile, Leonardo Balerdi has been signed from Dortmund permanently and Konrad de la Fuente has arrived from Marseille. Hot Nice prospects Salim Ben Seghir and Bilal Nadir have also arrived.

This apparently flies in the face of the prevailing financial situation in France, and also that of Marseille, who have toiled to make such signings lately.

Indeed, OM have been warned by the DNGC – French football’s financial watchdog – over their summer campaign. As such, the club will have its accounts closely monitored.

How have Marseille managed to afford such star talent?

Marseille have made just a couple of sales over the course of the summer, with neither Maxime Lopez’s switch to Sassuolo or Hiroki Sakai’s move to Urawa Reds generating the type of money close to covering their losses.

However, Marseille have saved significantly by offloading several big earners off their books this summer.

Most prominent among these is Florian Thauvin, who has joined Tigres and will play for France at the Olympics. His sizeable wage was not justified by his performances over the last two seasons.

Similarly, Valere Germain, a Ligue 1 champion with Monaco, was on an entirely outsized wage given his relatively feeble influence in the team.

And with Kevin Strootman offloaded, Marseille have seen one of their biggest earners leave the club – albeit they are likely paying a significant portion of his bloated wage.

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Meanwhile, there will be departures. Croatia centre-back Duje Caleta-Car and the highly rated Boubacar Kamara are both expected to leave before the end of the transfer window, which should go some way more to balancing the books.

Furthermore, there is a sense that Marseille are speculating that they can take advantage of weakness in their rivals due to the financial situation of many. Investment in the squad this summer, goes the logic, will reap dividends in the years ahead.

It is notable that of OM’s high-profile additions, Guendouzi and Under both arrive on temporary deals, the type of which Saliba should also sign on.

Marseille seem to be taking something of a calculated risk with regards the investment in their squad for 2021/22, but it is one that could richly pay off.