If the French international decides, as many expect him to, that this is the appropriate time to end his association with Marseille, then there is no doubting that he leaves the club with the fans’s and the board’s full adoration, respect and love.
For the 31 year old is no longer simply a player at Marseille. After eight years, Mandanda has become a symbol. A leader, a lion and maybe, when OM fans have a little time to reflect after what has been one of the most tumultuous seasons for the club in recent history, a legend.
His leadership skills paralleled with his shot-stopping abilities see him win this award despite his side finishing in a torrid 13th place, just nine points away from the final relegation tallies.
Many argue that without Steve Mandanda and Lassana Diarra this season, OM might have completely and utterly fallen apart, which would have been an extremely significant turn of events, especially as Margarita Louis Dreyfus has been attempting to sell the club for much of this campaign.
The reported interest in the club itself would surely have been diminished if the reality was that Marseille would be facing Ligue 2 next season.
Mandanda has still managed 9 clean sheets in 36 league appearances this season, and that is whilst having to contend with a rickety back four in front him, that included a Nicolas N’Koulou who was utterly devoid of confidence, a shaky and unreliable Rolando, and, at times, a frankly clueless Karim Rekik.
To suggest that Steve Mandanda was handicapped this season by his own teammates is almost an understatement. And although Yoan Cardinale of OGC Nice deserves a special mention for such excellent consistency at a tender age, Mandanda is the goalkeeper that the voters felt had the greatest impact on his team’s performances through his own this season.
Wherever he may be next season, with his Marseille contract expiring in a month’s time, the club that welcomes him next are not only getting an excellent goalkeeper reaching his prime at 31, but also a humble, but enigmatic leader of men.