Marseille President Pablo Longoria approached Xabi Alonso to replace Jorge Sampaoli

In an extensive interview with So Foot magazine released this week, Olympique de Marseille’s Spanish president Pablo Longoria has revealed that he met with highly-rated Bayer 04 Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso back in the summer of 2022 with a view to the Basque succeeding Argentinian Jorge Sampaoli in the Vélodrome dugout. 

In his own words, Longoria recounts that meeting: 

“I went to see him. He said no to me with the a certain elegance, the same elegance he had when he was a player, a 40 metre diagonal pass from his feet. He was telling me no and I should’ve been annoyed with him, but instead I almost wanted to thank him. You see his brain going at a certain speed, he knew exactly which three or four clubs he wanted to coach and he was prepared to wait for them”

The president would eventually choose Croatia and Juventus legend Igor Tudor to succeed the combustible Sampaoli, the former HNK Hajduk Split and Hellas Verona FC duly leading Les phocéens to a third place finish in Ligue 1 and UEFA Champions League qualification. He would then leave, citing tiredness and the relentless pressure and chaos of the Marseille footballing environment. 

 Pablo Longoria would then turn to a personal friend of his, former Villarreal CF and Valencia CF coach Marcelino, to continue building on the foundations put in place by Tudor: 

“My analysis was that in maintaining the rigour, work ethic and physical rhythm put in place by Igor Tudor and adding a little bit of order, we could obtain even better results”

As it was, Marcelino lasted just three months in charge of the club, citing “personal reasons” for leaving the club in September. He was replaced by current coach Gennaro Gattuso. Marseille currently sit 8th in Ligue 1, following a 1-0 defeat at Lyon this weekend. 

Marseille fans could be forgiven for wistfully daydreaming about what life would be like under Xabi Alonso. 

GFFN | Jack McArdle 




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