Olympique de Marseille may have finished the season only three points away from Ligue 1 success but that has not been sufficient to satisfy Didier Deschamps, who is expected to take up the reigns of head coach at the Stade Velodrome this week and will seek to add experience to the side.
L’Equipe reports that the 1998 World Cup winner has pinpointed the heart of Marseille’s defence and the centre of their midfield as potentially weak links in the side and that he will look to bolster these areas as a priority.
Naldo of Werder Bremen and Souleymane Diawara of Girondins de Bordeaux are both considered to be top targets for Deschamps, who could face losing Brazilian central defender Hilton; a player who has been linked with a move to Al-Hilal or Saudi Arabia.
Brazilian centre-back Naldo is considered an expensive option, valued at around €10 million, while Diawara is unlikely to be allowed to leave by the French champions, who have already underlined their desire to keep hold of the bulk of their squad, unless a lavish amount of money is bid.
Meanwhile, Marseille are also seeking to plunder Alou Diarra from Bordeaux but are likely to come up against the same obstacles making Diawara an ambitious purchase. Even if Diarra does leave Bordeaux, France Football reports that he would favour a move abroad.
Porto midfielder Lucho Gonzalez is also reportedly a target, though the Argentinean international will cost a bank-breaking €20m.
Finally, Mathieu Valbuena and Lorik Cana will have to prove their worth to Deschamps, who is considered a pragmatic coach but will look to impose at least some of his own ideas on the team during the pre-season campaign.
Great changes at Marseille should not be expected, but a strengthening of the defensive sector will certainly occur.
Robin Bairner, Goal.com