Ligue 1 – Before the PSG OM classic: use of Payet, versatile, adapted: Gerson is finally on the level

Gerson has finally found his way. The Brazilian midfielder, who often found himself in trouble and sometimes completely lost in his first few months, has finally assumed the role of driving force in the Olympique de Marseille collective. Slightly in the doldrums this winter after a great start, Jorge Sampaoli’s men are set for an exciting end to the season with this Conference Europa League semi-final and Ligue 1 finish. If negotiated well, the latter could allow them to find the Champions League next season. “It’s up to us to find the formula to be competitive in both competitions“, warned Jorge Sampaoli on Saturday. And good news: With Gerson he has an ideal replacement engine for his animation in midfield. Especially since the Brazilian is fully refueling physically this spring.

At the end of the 32nd day after Stade Rennais’ defeat by Monaco (2-3) in the opening, guaranteed to stay second, Marseille will therefore head to the Parc des Princes in a relaxed mood to face the classic against Paris Saint-Germain ( 20: 45 p.m.). Winners at the Parc at the start of the 2020-2021 season, after a cup game, OM dreams of playing a dirty trick on their rivals, resorting to their current strengths, particularly that midfield that is provided quantitatively and technically and finally back on his Level is August-September level. Not at the party then, Gerson soon becomes an indispensable part of it. Finally understanding what his role was in the different systems of his Argentine coach, unpredictable with his plans and at the origin of his return to Europe last summer. But that’s also OM’s strength, it’s a cohesive team while being constantly unpredictable.

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Gerson followed in Rongier’s footsteps

Gerson, a more typical midfielder on whom he had made a fresh start in Brazil under Flamengo colors, had spent his first few months at Marseille lost on the pitch. The main problem for the Brazilian was his inability to adapt to multiple positions, especially during matches. One of the hallmarks of the “Sampaolian” philosophy. The 24-year-old player, recruited at great expense for precisely that versatility – €25m, the most expensive transfer of the Marseille 2021 transfer window – had quickly disappointed observers for his inability to not adapt. However, during his time at AS Roma (2016-2019), notably 2017-2018, he had played the spare tire, alternately on the right wing, but also had a bit of a presence in midfield in Eusebio Di Francesco’s team, a technician whose confidence, which he had won but which was targeting a physical lack in his game. At Fiorentina in 2018-2019 he had regained his favorite position of eighth but without a step on the water.

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Main problem, he failed to be an actor in the game, worse, he tended to tiptoe to Dimitri Payet, the free leader before the eternal OM. When the first doubts surfaced last October, Sampaoli had reminded everyone what he expected of him and positioned himself as the main person responsible for this difficult situation.

He’s a player who can develop on several levels in midfield. Where he does it best is as an organizer, in the axis he had done well with his former club. And that’s why he was drafted. We ask him to be more involved in the construction and he also has to adapt to the rhythm of Ligue 1. recalled the Argentine, patient with his player but above all demanding. “Right now we haven’t found that rhythm for him to make those differences. If a player needs to improve that way and he’s not up to the level yet, that’s a coach’s job, so it’s the coach’s fault .” We have to develop the player faster so that he can make the difference and that’s why we have to be more demanding with a player like Gerson.”

Thinking back to the Gerson case, it’s impossible not to think of Valentin Rongier. Not versatile enough in the eyes of Jorge Sampaoli, the French midfielder was almost not part of the Argentina coach’s plans for this 2021-2022 game. A discussion later, as he had revealed telefoot Recently, Rongier had regained his roadmap to win the favor of the former Argentina and Chile coach. Not usable enough with the ball at foot in construction play, improvable in holding his position, needs to be more versatile even if it means learning a new position as a piston, the ex-Nantes player had to do a Herculean task to perform one of the constituents of the “sampaolian” OM of the future. And he did. Valentin Rongier, Gerson: Same suffering, same struggle and same remedy: work and resilience. Jorge Sampaoli had also defended the good mentality of the Brazilian: “He trained the same from the start..”

An adjustment problem and a mental block

The Brazilian, still backed by OM, had admitted to having adjustment problems in the autumn, the ailments he had experienced in Italy which had hastened his return to Brazil. Add to that the complexity of Ligue 1, a championship in which it is difficult for foreign players to adapt. “It’s a more physical championship, with more pressing, it’s different from Brazil. He has to get up to the pace that’s here“ Sampaoli explained from a technical point of view.

For Gerson, the problem he suffered from was certainly “football” but also mental. Eusebio Di Francesco had also noticed this problem in him four years ago. Gerson had dealt with his trust issues himself. “I’m a little too stuck, gotta try to break free to show who the real Gerson is. I need to keep a good mental state and focus on football. Positive things can come from reviews“.

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The Gerson click was launched shortly before the transition to 2022, in December. Positioned a step up by Jorge Sampaoli to take turns with Dimitri Payet near the surface, Gerson had started to find colours, he who had always been adept in opposition’s box. One thing led to another, he gradually found his place where he was expected as a versatile element, bringing that extra something in the middle of the attacking squadron. Whether 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-2-1, 4-4-2, 3-4-2-1, 3-4-3 – the most used by Sampaoli, without theirs Forgetting variants mid-game – Gerson has found the key to playing anywhere in midfield.

From a player in trouble, he became assistant lieutenant to Dimitri Payet for animation, goalscorer, passer (6 goals and 8 assists in total, including 5 and 6 since December) and a real Swiss Army knife, which is now proving to be very valuable. Left midfielder, right midfielder in four-midfield, wide midfielder in three-midfield, number eight, central playmaker, nine-and-a-half, the Rio State native has visited every possible corner of a football field this season. Gerson eventually became Gerson. Only one winner in all this and the good one: OM.

Payet and Gerson during Marseille – Lille

Photo credit: Imago

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