It was confirmed Saturday that Nuno Taveras has joined Marseille.
In recent years, Arsenal have used the French club as a “finishing school” sending numerous youngsters to the Mediterranean coast to gain first team experience.
Arsenal’s releationship with Marseille stretches back longer, with OM acting as a bit of a feeder club.
Transfers between the two have had mixed results, with some players going on to be club legends whilst others never played for Arsenal again following their loan spell.
In 2000, Arsenal opted to sign lightweight Pires from Marseille for just £7.5million to replace Marc Overmars.
It took Pires a while to settle and adjust to a more physical Premier League. But once he found his feet he quickly established himself as one of the best players in the world.
During the 2001/02 season, he was arguably the best player in the world – but a cruciate injury robbed him of playing in the 2002 FA Cup Final and the 2002 World Cup with France. He was a huge miss for his country.
The reaction to him lifting the Premier League trophy in his tracksuit bottoms highlighted how high regard his team mates held him in.
He returned after a spell out to be a key player in the invincible team.
Two league titles, two FA Cups (it should have been 3) and 87 goals in 287 games.
His Arsenal career ended on a sour note as he was sacrificed in the Champions League final following Jens Lehmann’s red card.
A true Arsenal legend.
Having come up through Marseille’s youth system, Flamini rejected a long term contract with his home town club to join Arsenal on a free transfer in 2004.
Moving on a free transfer would be something that Flamini would become known for – after 153 games for Arsenal he joined AC Milan on a free transfer.
Five seasons later he would be back at Arsenal. Also on free. Before joining Crystal Palace and Getafe.
In total he made 5 moves in his career – and not a single penny was spent on him!
During both his spells at Arsenal he was always a little bit marmite.
Flamini did the nasty work whilst the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey got the plaudits.
Leaving us after his second spell with a total of 246 appearances for the club across 7 seasons. An Arsenal great.
A few years after Flamini, Arsenal went back to Marseille to rob them of their greatest youth product in history. Samir Nasri.
At the time, the hope was Nasri would become our Iniesta to Cesc Fabregas’s Xavi. And for a while it looked like that would be the case.
But Nasri’s ability was often overshadowed by his petulance, with many stories coming out that he was a bit of a bad-egg.
Three years after joining the club, and without ever really consistently contributing much or fulfilling his potential, Nasri forced through a move to Manchester City.
He wasted his talent.
After a good intial start at Arsenal, young Frenchman Guendouzi began to show behavioural problems. To put simply, he continued acting like a kid despite being an adult.
A move to Germany failed to get him back in line, so Arsenal decided to return to an old friend in the hope they would sort him out.
Whilst Guendouzi’s form improved whilst on loan in Marseille, his attitude did not.
Just last week he got into an on-pitch scuffle with Spanish legend Joaquín in a friendly.
Now 23, Marsielle were unable to iron out his attitude problems, but did decide to make his loan deal permanent.
Arsenal used the loan deal to perfiction. It showed that Guendouzi will never be mentally ready to play for a top team and allowed us to cut our losses.
Joining a few days after Guendouzi was Saliba.
A few have comapred the two but this is unfair on the younger Frenchman.
Whilst Guendouzi was loaned out in the hope it would improve his attitude, Saliba was loaned out to continue his development.
The true story of Saliba’s development is a masterstroke by the club.
Talented young man joins big club, but is not ready to play. Has loan deal cut short due to global pandemic. Club recongise he still needs to get a full season udner his belt. Loaned out to development club playing at a lower level. Becomes top player. Returns.
Saliba will have a big season this year and we can thank Marseille for developing him.
In the last 12 months we have seen two paths of two talented youngsters that joined Marseille on loan.
One did not really change his attitude and never returned to Arsenal. the other knuckled down and will be a big player for Arsenal this season.
So which path will Tavares go down?
He is a raw diamond with all the physical and technical atributes to be a very good wing back. But he lacks mentally.
Nuno makes too many poor decisions – especially when passing and dribbling.
The problem is Arsenal can not give him the game time to sort these out.
Hopefully, like Saliba, Tavares goes to France and plays an entire season. He then comes on leaps and bounds and returns to us next season as a more polished player.
And if it does not happen? I am sure Marseille will happily make the deal permanent like they did with Guendouzi.
The link up between Arsenal and Marseille is a fruitful one for us.
We sign their best players. We send youngsters to them. And they sign players who are not good enough for the Premier League (but will start in Ligue 1).
I wish Tavares well at the Arsenal finishing school.