One To Watch: Martín Satriano
The Uruguayan forward’s return is long overdue. After an effective half-season in Brittany at the Stade Francis Le Blé during the 21/22 campaign, scoring four times in 15 league games and generally causing havoc in the opposition defences with his intensity and direct style, the 22-year-old returned to parent club Inter Milan last summer.
Despite interest from clubs higher up the France top flight table, such as Marseille, Satriano, a striker or second striker generally, ended up out on loan with fellow Serie A side Empoli. Just three goal contributions in 32 outings underwhelmed and set the forward’s development back a touch.
That stagnation has been to Brest’s benefit, however, as his latest loan likely wouldn’t have come about otherwise. It could be crucial to Brest’s survival hopes. With talisman Franck Honorat finally exiting for Germany, much relies on Satriano’s output. Despite the positivity around his return, matching Honorat’s exploits will be tough.
Brest are perhaps more fortunate than any club remaining in the reduced 18-team division not to have been relegated in recent seasons. Carried by Honorat in each of the last three campaigns, they’ve always been battling relegation and have often survived due to the unusually weak sides below them (most notably last season) or through some key form at key times.
Throughout that run, the Brest squad has looked increasingly like a second-division group, and nothing changes here. A workmanlike defence remains bolstered while coach Eric Roy’s midfield boasts energy and honesty but not much else. Forward areas are perhaps the team’s saving grace, however, with Satriano complimented by the towering and effective striker Steve Mounie plus a smattering of ingenuity in attacking midfield areas from Jérémy Le Douaron and especially Romain Del Castillo, whose form and fitness will be crucial to the club’s season.
Roy, who was parachuted in last season to save the club from relegation, is supported by a strong selection of coaches who managed-by-committee before his arrival and following the somewhat ill-advised sacking of the usually reliable journeyman Michel Der Zakarian.
That settled nature throughout the organisation gives Brest cohesion other Ligue 1 sides, who can see significant turnover season-on-season, lack. An underrated home crowd and atmosphere also feeds a sense of unity and a siege mentality which has helped produce some impressive home results indecent seasons. The quality of Dutch international goalkeeper Marco Bizot will be key if Bresta are to stave off relegation too.
The importance of Honorat’s departure can’t be understated. His absence only makes the squad look evermore weaker and heightens a sense that a lack of depth could be exposed by a series of injuries and suspensions.
The efficient and astute former Lille and Strasbourg midfielder Jonas Martin’s signing is a boon, however, and, paired with the equally wizened Pierre Lees-Malou, Brest will be shrewd operators and tough to beat. But should that core be robbed from Roy, he’s quickly into untested youngsters. The same goes for his strikers beyond Mounie and Satriano as well as in full-back areas.
With Ligue 1 cutting its numbers to 18, Brest is only in increasing danger of the drop. A relegation battle of some kind is a near-given for this stretched, uninspiring squad at this stage. Mounie and Satriano are effective, but goals aren’t always plentiful for the pair, while their supply will badly suffer should Del Castillo continue to struggle with injuries.
To their credit, Brest have battled to safety admirably in recent years in spite of similarly poor squads, and the tools exist for a repeat here. However, with France’s increased competitiveness and only Metz weaker on paper, they could well finally succumb to a return to Ligue 2. Significant arrivals before the end of the window could yet come but anything radical is unlikely.
Adam White | GFFN