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Olympique de Marseille announced on Wednesday the official signing of Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez, who passed through Barcelona, Arsenal and Inter Milan. A big name, certainly on the decline, for the Marseille club.
A welcome worthy of a rock star. Alexis Sanchez is already at home in Marseille, evidenced by the crowd who came to welcome him at the airport, on the eve of the announcement on Wednesday August 10 of his signing with OM. The Chilean, who has worked for Barcelona, Arsenal and Inter Milan, will be responsible for bringing his talent in attack, his sense of goal and his experience at the highest level to the club.
“Free of any contract, the Chilean international striker with 143 caps, who has won 17 trophies in his career, signed up after the success of his medical visit,” the club wrote in a press release. An official told AFP that he had signed for a year.
The player, who has just terminated his contract with Inter Milan, arrived Tuesday evening at Marseille-Provence airport where several hundred supporters had been waiting for him for several hours in an excited atmosphere.
At 33, the Chilean is no longer quite the same player, no longer quite the “Nino Maravilla”, the “child prodigy”, who enchanted European football in the first half of the 2010s. But his calling card really does look good, with almost 250 career goals, more than 140 caps and two Copas America with Chile, where he was managed by two old Marseille acquaintances, Marcelo Bielsa and Jorge Sampaoli. And a top 10 at the Ballon d’Or 2015.
Complicated years since 2017
Arrived in Europe in 2008, at Udinese, Sanchez then shone in Barcelona (47 goals between 2011 and 2014) and especially at Arsenal, where he scored 80 times in four seasons. On the other hand, his move to Manchester United, from 2017 to 2019, was missed. The Chilean has relaunched at Inter Milan, which he has just left free, an essential condition for his arrival in Provence. In Lombardy, he had found a real impact and statistics, in a new role as first offensive substitute.
At Marseille, he should have more playing time and responsibilities than at Inter. This is undoubtedly what seduced him, his Milanese status no longer completely suiting him. Marseille president Pablo Longoria can be satisfied with this nice move, for a club that has been chasing a “great striker” for years without ever really achieving its goals.
“Scorer, passer, fast, agile and able to play in all positions in the attacking sector, also very present in pressing and in ‘one-on-one’, the Chilean international is a world-class player with great experience of a very high level”, welcomed the Marseille club.
“It’s a profile that matches completely with what we want to put in place,” the Spanish leader had already declared on Sunday before his team’s victory against Reims (4-1) at the start of the championship.
Sanchez will bring OM his immense experience, very useful when attacking the Champions League next month, and his character. Less dribbling and slower than when he started out, he also seems to have the perfect profile to play in the line of two of Igor Tudor’s 3-4-2-1, where he will be an additional competitor to Dimitri Payet.
OM accounts in bright red
The arrival of the Chilean, ninth recruit in the frenetic Marseille summer transfer window, still raises some questions. Sanchez will thus have a salary in line with his career and which will not help OM’s financial situation.
With losses of more than 70 million euros in 2020-2021 according to the latest DNCG report, after more than 90 million euros for each of the two previous seasons, OM’s accounts are in bright red and owner Frank McCourt demanded sales from Longoria, so he wouldn’t have to plug a deep hole every season.
However, departures are not very numerous this summer at OM, only those of Luan Peres and Lucas Perrin having brought in a little cash. At the club, we also recognize “that they are two too many in attack”.
The leaders therefore still hope to find a way out for the young Konrad de la Fuente, which should not pose too much difficulty, but above all, and it is more complicated, for Cédric Bakambu, and his enormous salary, or Bamba Dieng , whose transfer would allow OM to record a nice capital gain.
In the meantime, Igor Tudor is truly spoiled for choice. Milik, Luis Suarez, Bakambu, Alexis Sanchez… The Marseille attack is high level.