Thoughts on Marquinhos’ Debut for Nantes
Marquinhos made his anticipated debut for Nantes in the 2-1 loss to Toulouse yesterday evening, coming on as a substitute for Egyptian forward, Mostafa Mohammed, but he didn’t do much on his cameo appearance, as Nantes fell short on the French Ligue Un opening contest, sending them to 16th place on the log, which I dare say are familiar surroundings. The club flirted with relegation for a considerable chunk of last season, and managed to avoid the drop with a single point. In 38 Ligue Un games, Nantes managed seven wins, 15 draws and 16 defeats, ending the campaign with 36 points.
Mostafa Mohamed arrived on loan from Galatasaray last season to ease the blow caused by the departure of their star striker, Randal Kolo Muani to Eintracht Frankfurt, scoring eight goals in his debut campaign. That was enough to get his services retained for this new season. However, Ludovic Blas scored the most goals for the club with 12.
The club didn’t thrive too well in other competitions to cap off a disappointing campaign by their modest standards – following Nantes’ Coupe de France (French version of FA Cup) win in the previous campaign, two seasons ago, they started last season with a Trophee Des Champions (French version of the Community Shield) clash against the Ligue Un winners, Paris St. Germain. Goals from Lionel Messi, Sergio Ramos and a Neymar brace saw PSG destroy Nantes to take the trophy home. Nantes had a memorable Coupe de France run, going all the way to the finals and most have imagined their spotlight on the back pages, being a club that won the competition on back to back occasions, but they were thrashed resoundingly, 5-1, by Toulouse in the Cup final. Nantes’ Europa League adventure was halted by Juventus in the Knockout Playoff Round.
Like Kolo Muani, Nantes has lost Ludovic Blas to Stade Rennais this season and will be looking to the likes of Mohamed and Marquinhos to provide them with the fire power to return to the European places as the campaign progresses. Marquinhos has a lot of potential and needs consistent game time to hone that talent we all know he has, but Arsenal will be monitoring his progress and will be hopeful he pulls off a Flo Balogun.
Prior to his loan spell at Stade de Reims, Balogun had a disappointing loan spell with Middlesbrough, and last season, he set the French Ligue Un ablaze with his goalscoring prowess that has seen him turn out to one of the most on-demand forwards this summer. If Marquinhos puts his head down and focus on improving his football, I expect the same trajectory for him.
Nantes reportedly paid Arsenal a €300,000 loan fee and are set to cover his €500,000 net salary. The clubs were reportedly discussing a €12 million option to buy and €22 million buyback clause, but Arsenal refused this proposal, agreeing to just a standard loan move with no obligation to buy.
I have questioned whether Marquinhos still has a future with Arsenal but from a pecking order perspective, he’s behind the likes of Bukayo Saka, Fabio Vieira, Leandro Trossard, Reiss Nelson, and even Nicolas Pepe. Let’s not forget that Gabriel Jesus managed some minutes on the right wing for Manchester City. His performances on the pitch haven’t been exemplary, and even though he’s a youngster, he hasn’t really shown that determination on the pitch, even though in his defense, he hasn’t had ample opportunity in the club.
Looking at the formation Nantes played (via WhoScored) in the defeat to Toulouse, their gaffer, Pierre Aristouy, deployed the 3-4-1-2 tactical setup, and when he brought Marquinhos on for Mostafa Mohamed, Marquinhos played as a center forward, alongside Simon Moses, which will be a new brooding ground for the Brazilian youngster. He has played pretty much his entire career from the right wing, as an inverted winger / inside forward, but from all indications, he might be deployed as a center forward / supporting striker in this system at Nantes, and we can only hope he adapts well and scores the goals required to send Nantes to European contention.
I’d be monitoring his progress at Nantes and will be hopeful that he puts up exemplary performances for him as he continues his footballing education.
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