Despite all the devotion that the Algerian people have for it, the love story between Olympique de Marseille and our country has never really come to anything.
There is no love, there is only evidence of love. This saying, OM certainly does not want to make it its own when it comes to Algeria. There have indeed been a few transfers here and there over the decades (for the most recent and most significant, Karim Ziani and Foued Kadir), but no one has really influenced the Olympic club, whose image has not stopped shaking down on a disappointed Algerian public with what they end up considering a one-sided love.
With the recent transfer to professionals Rayan Hassad and Aylan Benyahia-Tani, both dual nationals with different backgrounds (the first is an Algerian national team player, the second French national team player), the opportunity to see a green wear the jersey from the Marseille club is in the Ligue. 1 exists. Although other transfer rumors show an interest from Pablo Longoria, president of OM, for Adam Ounas, there has not really been an Algerian marking the story of Marseillais, where a Mustapha Dahleb is a Paris Saint-Germain legend.
The journalist and influential Idris Kasmi answered our questions about the club’s two neo-pros … but also about this fallen love affair just waiting to find some color.
DZfoot: Why did OM decide to give a pro contract to Benyahi-Tani and then to Hassad?
Idriss Kasmi: Simply because they are the two best players in the 2005 generation, apart from the fact that they are two profiles that the club is not used to seeing exist. OM is a club that more often tends to coach defenders or midfielders, as evidenced by the last players who have had a professional career: Boubacar Kamara, Maxime Lopez, Baptiste Aloe, Stéphane Sparagna, Lucas Perrin. Only Isaac Lihadji serves as an exception in attacking positions, but given the soap opera that was his gateway to the professional world (Ed. Note: He refused to sign his first professional contract with OM before traveling free to LOSC), not strange that the club immediately tried to secure these two talents.
How would you describe these two players?
Aylen Benyahi-Tani is a creative, complete striker who is able to play in the top four positions, although he feels more comfortable in a position of 9 ½ or even 10. Basically, he develops primarily behind the attack to be in the center of It is not for nothing that the club allowed him to make some benches, especially in the Europa League conference this season. He will probably have to strengthen his game a bit to exist in the density of Ligue 1 midfielders, but he is only 17 years old (Editor’s note: 16 years old, he turns 17 on July 19, 2022) and still time to grow.
Rayan Hassad is a hard-hitting, sharp, dribble winger, a real kid of street football. As soon as he takes the ball, he looks for the opponent’s cage, elimination. He finished the season as the top scorer for OM’s U19 Nationals and I would not be surprised if he was also (by far) the best passer. Like all players of this type, his axis of progression lies in his choice: when he will prefer imbalance, when to choose the combination over individual initiative, and so on.
What are their chances of showing up in the pros next season?
They are very thin. They are very young, do not have many senior matches in their legs and their competitors are confirmed players: Cengiz Under, Dimitri Payet, Gerson, Cheikh Bamba Dieng, Cédric Bakambu. Even little Ben Seghir, two years their eldest, must try to get playing time under Igor Tudor, the club’s new coach. It would be a huge surprise to see one of these two players on a Ligue 1 pitch this season.
One is a French international, the other an Algerian international. What do you think is their relationship with the selection and with Algeria? Do you think so Baaloudj-Khetir, who had been fired from the training center after their arrival in the Algerian selection, will have an impact on their future in the selection?
I do not think the history of Baaloudj and Khetir can influence future international decisions. It was a special context (covid), and the people in place in the club who are responsible for this ridiculous story are no longer there. In addition, other club players continued to go to selection after that (Kada, Dehilis, Rahou). I must not lie, I do not know what their relationship with the country is. Anyway, Rayan Hassad did not hesitate long before joining the Greens, that’s all I can say.
What’s going on in the gym right now? Nasser Larguet left the club and the reserves were relegated.
The descent of the reserve was planned anyway. With the overhaul of the championships, there will be several more races this season, and OM has been running on the last day of four years. We had to go there at some point.
For the gym itself, Larguet’s departure had been expected for several months. The mood had become hurtful with David Friio (Longoria’s deputy attached to the training). The president has installed trusted players in key positions and if we are used to believing this is a good thing, in Marseille the training center changes policy every 3 years, it is an eternal construction and transition. I’m pretty pessimistic about what’s going to happen this year. I hope I’m wrong.
Why are few young people trained in the club to break into OM?
For the club has never really wanted to train its players. He has neither the stability nor the patience. But there is also the famous context. Only cracks like Kamara or Nasri manage to withstand the pressure of a child wearing the blue and white tunic. Marseillais, like the Algerian, have a real need to identify with their team. Whoever manages to realize the dream of all the inhabitants of this city (to play for OM) must honor this chance, he will be judged harder than his partners, because “he knows what is expected of players“. And sometimes that pressure has killed talented players. Although his career is magnificent compared to others, a player like Maxime Lopez has had a lot of trouble developing on this team. The context is very difficult.
How do you explain the failed love affair between OM and Algeria?
In my humble opinion, the club does not realize the market opportunity it represents in the country. I know the gap has narrowed thanks to our Qatar friends (Editor’s note: PSG, since its takeover of QSI, has continued to gain in popularity), but OM is still the most popular club in Algeria. Diplomatic tensions between France and Algeria should not help either. For the past fifteen years, OM has played friendly matches in Morocco and Tunisia … but not in Algeria. This is without a doubt a problem outside of us. I think people will realize the natural marriage between these two football countries when an Algerian wears the jersey again. If Youcef Belaïli signed with OM last winter (Editor’s note: The player had been offered the club), the club would undoubtedly have released a green and red jersey this summer. Not everything is ready for the future.
Interview conducted by Walid L.