In the summer transfer window of 2017, Olympique de Marseille had a long overdue overhaul of their squad. Due to financial difficulties for several years, the club was forced to sell its most promising players. The likes of Michy Batshuayi, Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin left the club for fees far below their market value.
Kostas Mitroglou: A Doomed Signing
Finally, in late 2016, American investor Frank McCourt purchased the club and pumped funds into the first team. In both January and the subsequent summer, manager Rudi Garcia was given the freedom to bring in several new players.
Although reinforcements were brought in across the pitch, the attack was mostly neglected. Marseille were left with Valère Germain as their only central striker in the last week of the transfer market and a new forward was top of their shopping list. There were some big names linked with the club, most notably Olivier Giroud or a return for Bafétimbi Gomis.
Arrival at Marseille
On the last day of the summer transfer window, Kostas Mitroglou signed for Olympique de Marseille from Benfica. The Greece international underwent somewhat of a revival in his career whilst in Portugal, scoring 52 goals in 86 games. Previous to Benfica, he was signed by Fulham on deadline day in 2013 but only made three appearances for the club before leaving on loan.
Those three appearances for Fulham represent the only competitive football that Mitroglou has played in the big five European leagues. He may have had a good record during his time in Lisbon, but Marseille signing him was somewhat of a risk. The Greek was unproven at any significant level, and at 29 years old, will not improve.
Mitroglou was even injured when Marseille bought him on the last day of the transfer window, meaning he could not play for several games after arriving. Ultimately, all the signs point towards this transfer being a panic buy after the better options turned down the club: he was doomed to fail from the start.
The Current Situation
Mitroglou was signed to be the main striker for Marseille, but now he finds himself down the pecking order behind Germain, the man who was meant to deputise for him, and Clinton N’Jie. The Greek has been given his opportunities, having made 11 appearances and scoring only three goals.
Not only has Mitroglou not been scoring, but he has also been missing clear-cut chances. He has an xG of 4.66 across his nine league games but has only two goals in Ligue 1. This underperformance had been mostly covered by the stellar form of Florian Thauvin, but Marseille need a striker who can find the back of the net consistently.
Germain has not hesitated with the chances he has been handed by Rudi Garcia. The ex-Monaco man has started the last six league games and bagged four goals and an assist, securing himself as the manager’s first choice striker. Mitroglou’s exile from the first team does not end there: N’Jie appears to be Garcia’s preferred impact sub too, scoring three goals from the bench this season.
So how can Mitroglou make his way back into the fold? He ended 2017 in the right way, scoring in his last start for the club in the cup versus Rennes. The Greek will not make the starting 11 in the league in the next few matches due to Germain’s form, but Marseille have a cup match coming up and Mitroglou will surely get a chance to redeem himself.
A goal or two against lower league opposition in the cup will certainly help his case, but he will have to impress from the bench in Ligue 1 if he is to resurrect his career in the south of France.
Mitroglou’s first true stint in one of the top five divisions in Europe has been a disappointment. From the moment he joined the club, it was obvious that he was an emergency buy. Nevertheless, given his performances for Benfica, he should still be doing better than his current return. Three goals in his first four months is simply not a good enough return.
He needs to build up his confidence which is not easy at a club like Marseille where the fans demand so much. Unless Mitroglou forces himself into the team and gets onto the scoresheet, fans will see the back of him in the summer.