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It’s Been A Strong Window For Ligue 1, But Marseille Stands Out Alongside PSG

After a potential title chase ended up in a fifth-place finish and a change of manager, Olympique de Marseille has been remarkably active in the transfer window this summer. 

Jorge Sampaoli has been backed to the tune of $52 million as Marseille has secured 10 signings thus far. This summer has been one of transition for the side from France's second city, as Valère Germain, Yuto Nagatomo and Florian Thauvin have left the club in addition to academy graduate Maxime Lopez, Kevin Strootman and Hiroki Sakai.

Sampaoli has brought in two promising young players on loan from Arsenal in midfielder Matteo Guendouzi and defender William Saliba. The latter arrived at the Emirates with high expectations after a $35 million move from St. Etienne, but to the frustration of himself and Arsenal supporters, he never forced his way into the side. Many were left dumbfounded by manager Mikel Arteta's treatment of and lack of faith in the young defender, who spent the second half of last season 120 miles from Marseille on loan with OCG Nice. 

Guendouzi, on the other hand, arrived with comparatively little fanfare in the summer of 2018 before establishing himself as an important part of the side, starting 33 Premier League games and making 48 appearances overall. The former Lorient youngster's second season in London saw a dip in form and a drop in playing time. His transfer value, according to, peaked in December 2019 at $59 million but plummeted once Arteta took over and continued to drop to its current $23 million.

The 22-year old's loan deal with Marseille contains an obligation for the French side to make the move permanent at the season's end. 

Goalkeeper Pau Lopez and winger Cengiz Under have both arrived on loan from Roma, with new manager Jose Mourinho content to let the pair depart. Each of their loan agreements also contain obligations for permanent deals in the future.

Lopez made 34 appearances for the Italian capital side last season, while Under struggled for playing time on loan at Leicester City under Brendan Rodgers. After bursting onto the scene with an eight-goal debut campaign for Roma in 2017-18, the 24-year-old Under has struggled for consistency, scoring just six league goals in the last three seasons. Sampaoli clearly sees the raw talent Under posseses, and the Argentine's penchant for all-out attacking and tactical tinkering could prove beneficial to the Turkish international.

Marseille has also secured a return for center back Leo Balerdi on a permanent transfer after the 22-year-old spent last season on loan at the Velodrome from Dortmund. Sampaoli apparently saw enough from his compatriot in 25 appearances to pull the trigger on a $13 million move.

Marseille has also brought in another former Roma player in midfielder Gerson. The 24-year-old midfielder moved to the Italian capital back in 2016 from Fluminense as a youngster with high expectations. Things never quite worked out for him at the Olimpico, as he spent a year on loan at Fiorentina before returning to Brazil with Flamengo in 2019.

The return home did Gerson the world of good as he was able to establish some much needed consistency, appearing 102 times and scoring six goals in a trophy-laden two years which saw Flamengo win two Brazilian league titles and the 2019 Copa Libertadores. Gerson will be joined in the south of France by compatriot Luan Peres, a center back signed from Santos for $5.3 million. 

Sampaoli worked with Peres during his time in charge of Santos. The 27-year-old established himself as a critical cog in the machine, which is why supporters were reluctant to see him depart on a return to Europe. Peres left Brazil for a short spell with Belgium's Club Brugge before returning to his home country. 

Perhaps one of the most exciting of the many transfers Marseille has completed this summer is that of Konrad De La Fuente, the USMNT international who spent the last seven years working his way through the ranks at FC Barcelona. Costing just $3.5 million, De La Fuente could prove a steal. The 20-year-old is full of confidence and technical ability, both of which were on display as he scored his first Marseille goal in a friendly. 

Ligue 1's 2021-22 season promises tons of entertainment as Paris Saint-Germain will be out to regain the crown on which it had held a virtual monopoly until Lille held on to win the title late last season. The Parisians have made some impressive additions to their squad this summer, signing Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos and Italy hero Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

The transfer window has dampened the feelings of triumph Lille supporters felt as the champions have since lost manager Christophe Galtier and key players such as Boubakary Soumare and Mike Maignan. Marseille has attempted to step into the breach with a flurry of signings which supporters will hope can help the side challenge for the title again and, at the very least, qualify for the Champions League. 

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