At Olympique de Marseille, it has been made evident that no player is indispensable under the current president Pablo Longoria. Still, when the news broke in late January that Jonathan Clauss (31) was to be put on the market only a short time before the transfer window closed it was a shock.
The player had looked as close to indispensable this season as it is possible to get at Marseille. He was a consistent presence for the club in a season where others have failed to meet expectations, and Marseille had relied heavily upon that, making him their most used player.
Yet this did not stop Clauss from becoming a pariah overnight as the club desperately attempted to force the right back out of the team – a fact that the club now disputes. However, the former RC Lens defender refused to leave and now awaits an unknown reception in the first home game since he became embroiled in a strange saga.
Cracks begin to show
The inciting incident that began this situation appeared inconsequential. Clauss pulled up injured during a game against AS Monaco in the first half on the 27th of January. The medical staff examined the player and assured him that they were not worried after their initial tests.
Most teams would be glad of this result, but according to L’Équipe, this news enraged the club hierarchy. They were furious that Clauss could have finished the match and believed that the player was not providing them with his entire effort, and had half an eye on his place in France’s squad for the Summer Euros.
They believed that this was the third time that Clauss had refused to commit his body to Marseille. The first came against OGC Nice in October, and the second when he asked to be substituted against Stade Rennais in December after he said that he could no longer focus on the match because he was disturbed by his house being burgled only a few days before.
This was an opinion held by the club that quickly became public as L’Équipe accuses the club of intentionally leaking this information to several sources to try and force the fullback into an early exit.
Marseille act swiftly
L’Équipe reports the night of the match against Monaco, Medhi Benatia, the sporting director for Marseille, sent a voice note to Clauss’s entourage explaining in colourful language that he was furious about the early exit and he would never wear the Marseille jersey again.
The following day Pablo Longoria, general manager Stéphane Tessier, and manager Gennaro Gattuso met to discuss their transfer deadline approach where the topic of Clauss was broached and it was decided that they would have to find a way for him to leave.
The player and his entourage were told to stay away from the club, with the hierarchy explaining that Clauss’s behaviour was disruptive to the team. They complained that he was too loud in the dining room, and he would vent his frustrations at his teammates during training if they mishit a pass. In effect, they believed that the player had become too confident since France had called upon his selection.
His attitude in training was thought to have unsettled sessions, and annoyed training staff, certain teammates, and the manager. L’Équipe points to a particular moment when Clauss during a video session on playing in a 3-5-2 shape began to advise where he thought the defence should be positioned and when their pressing triggers should be.
Despite this, his intervention was somewhat appreciated, but the question emerged was Clauss a disruptive influence in the Marseille dressing room? At Lens this thought was never even posited, while the national team were shocked to see Marseille’s actions and sent the player a message of support.
Clauss refuses to leave
Marseille began to develop contacts with Lorenz Assignon and Zeki Çelik in an attempt to replace their fullback. However, both of these approaches broke down as Clauss refused to leave during the middle of the season, regardless of the pressure exerted on him.
It became clear to the club that the player was not going anywhere and Tessier was sent to defuse the situation, where he explained to the fullback that the situation had been entirely concocted by the media.
Two days after the affair, Clauss was included in the squad that travelled to Lyon, although the right-back only came on during the second half. Internally, the club are considered to be pleased with the outcome of this situation, as they believe that the player has become aware of the demands of the job.
Gattuso speaking at a press conference broached the subject, “Clauss is an important player but you have to ask more, like with others. This is what we are missing, being demanding with ourselves and with others, reproaching your partner if he does not do enough, everyone must make themselves available to the other without thinking individually.”
Whilst Longoria stated, “Clauss must be an important figure and this involves all the little daily attitudes. This week he had a very good reaction.”
Gennaro Gattuso believes that he has been too calm with his Marseille squad and will look to implement a stricter regime moving forward.— Get French Football News (@GFFN) February 8, 2024
"I have to be true to who I am." https://t.co/l1hHwPTIsG