It's a mess in Marseille.
When Frank McCourt took over his stated intention was to make them France’s equivalent of Borussia Dortmund. In finishing second to PSG last season, it would appear he has achieved that aim, yet OM’s success is one built on sand.
A chronic lack of investment in the squad means that OM are set to operate with a small playing squad as they return to the Champions League next season, while their youth system shows few signs of producing the type of talents found commonly elsewhere in Ligue 1.
Andre Villas Boas deserves tremendous credit for what he has achieved with this group, and while the Portuguese seems set to stay until the end of his contract in 2021, having appeared likely to walk away following the resignation of sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, he has made it plain he intends to stay little longer.
Marseille have stumbled their way back into Europe’s elite, but with rumours of a takeover from a Saudi group having apparently come to naught, their return to the game’s upper echelons promises to be a brief one, with Mbaye Niang the only strong summer link thus far.
Indeed, the departure of the former Barcelona goalkeeper, however, has left a massive void to fill, with a tremendous amount of work to be done simply retaining the squad that finished second. There is little prospect of the position being taken imminently, with Olivier Pickeu, formerly of Angers, the leading candidate.
To make matters worse for the Stade Velodrome side, Florian Thauvin’s injury, which was sustained in pre-season last summer and meant he literally played a handful of competitive minutes in 2019-20, has meant that their most sellable asset is suddenly a great deal less valuable.
His contract is up next summer and the electric form he showed in 2018-19, while not exactly forgotten, is at least a distant memory.
Furthermore, goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, the club’s Player of the Season, Maxime Lopez and Jordan Amavi are all out of contract in little more than 12 months, meaning that OM are fighting just to tread water with their current squad.