Marseille’s Leonardo Balerdi addresses infamous hunger strike

It can be easy to forget with Leonardo Balerdi (25) attracting interest from across Europe that the Olympique de Marseille defender had become the figure of ridicule and the lightning rod for fan criticisms last season. 

The defender has spent four years in La Provence, which can be a lifetime for some players unable to handle the pressure cooker environment on the South Coast or survive the revolving door policy that sees managers and players alike in and out of the club before they’ve had a chance to settle.

However, while the Argentine defender has impressed this season, his performances last year were intensely criticised. Balerdi had a horror start to 2023 being at fault on multiple occasions during a 3-0 defeat in Le Classique, while also missing the decisive penalty in a shock loss in the Coupe de France to Ligue 2 side Annecy. 

This eventually resulted in a strange situation where a fan went on a hunger strike in protest at Balerdi’s continual stay at the club. Something that the centre-back has finally addressed in an interview with L’Équipe

Folklore!” Balerdi laughed, “Now I see a lot of Balerdi fans, but I like it when people criticise me, it motivates me too. I need people to focus on my mistakes, I need to keep improving.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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