It was necessary to present Olivier Ntcham, a week after his arrival at OM, to let Nasser Larguet, the coach, speak before the Auxerre-OM Coupe de France on Wednesday. But as the procedure now dictates, which says presentation of a rookie says the presence of the general manager in charge of football, Pablo Longoria. And it was almost only for him. Longoria explained about the search for the new coach, a hot topic, he did not add anything to André Villas-Boas, Olivier Ntcham’s declaration about his agents being self-sufficient, and having surely been prepared in advance in a collegial manner. He was especially excellent at the very end of his speech, when he spoke about Frank McCourt’s commitment and OM’s future prospects. Excellent because precise on what is now the OM project. As we knew, the 36-year-old Spaniard was recruited for his ideas. We now know why he was chosen by Frank McCourt to breathe new life into the American’s adventure as owner of OM.
What the “Champions Project” really was
There was first the “Champions Project”, a name a bit pompous, but devilishly strategic when negotiating the operation of the Velodrome stadium with a Town Hall who did not want to alienate the new dream merchants of the city. But there was also a sports component: investing 200 million euros in four mercatos to increase the value of the team and allow the whole group to progress. The club went to look for elements of experience, Luiz Gustavo, Rami, Payet to shift a course to elements already there such as Zambo Anguissa, Bouna Sarr or Maxime Lopez. The story is known, the rise of the project came to a halt with a chaotic transfer window 2018, three expensive purchases for players who did not have the expected return. Behind, the envelope was empty and OM relied on the network of André Villas-Boas to get up. And now ?
A team at the end of the contract? No problem
If it took a few months to take its marks, Pablo Longoria settled down and settled down at the Commanderie. Some historical members of the recruitment cell have been dismissed, the methods are changing. Some supporters are convinced that whoever has passed through Juve and Sassuolo is only there to prepare the ground for new investors. One of the arguments often used is the fact that a large part of the workforce has a commitment until the end of the season (Pelé, Germain, Nagatomo, Thauvin, Amavi, Rocchia and Khaoui are at the end of their contract while Lirola , Ntcham, Cuisance and Balerdi are only loaned for the season). The famous year zero that Villas-Boas was talking about? As you can see in the video, Longoria explained: “We have an economic internal management mechanism very similar to that used by the Spanish clubs which allows investments to be made all the time. It depends on the future construction. There are a lot of questions and not just to say “OK, this is a transfer of X million euros, we can do it or we can’t do it”. It is a construction between the salaries, the depreciation of the players, it is a bit case by case. It is true that we have a number of loaned players in the workforce which is higher than normal, it is also true that in the past I have worked in similar situations. After the Valencia season where we finished in the Champions League, we bought all the players we had on loan. It depends a bit on the context. What’s important is to always have control over all the players you have in the squad. “
As in Valencia in recent years
Here we are. The OM project is therefore similar to what Valencia has done in recent seasons. When the club Ché finishes in the top four of La Liga, and therefore qualifies for the lucrative Champions League, the purchase options are exercised, like those at the time of Gonçalo Guedes and Geoffrey Kondogbia. If this is not the case, the club does not find itself in the obligation to sell players at a loss, with problematic situations such as the case of Kévin Strootman in Marseille these last mercatos. It is not trading, where we buy young talents like Lille by the dozen while thinking above all about capital gains, it is not investment at a loss of patron, which can make people dream but be made also wait. It is a project in any case which makes credible the retention in post of Frank McCourt, which one could wonder that it was still his interest to remain owner of the OM. Longoria again: “C‘is due to the current market where now no club is making big transfers. All of these loans with option to buy are for young players who can be interesting players in the future and assets for the club. All conversations with Frank lately have always been about the future of the club. There has been a lot of talk about a 4 year plan. There is the question of investment. We can’t always ask an owner to write checks, we as managers have an obligation to make good plans to have financial stability. I don’t believe in football where the owner is only the person who writes the checks. “
So see what this can give to OM, from the next transfer window, while there is now little chance that the club will participate in the next Champions League.