Sampaoli : 'Fofana could play for anybody'

Publish on 21/01/2022 at 11:58 - D. CROSSAN


Olympique de Marseille travel to Lens on Saturday evening and Jorge Sampaoli is very much aware that home midfielder Seko Fofana will need to be closely watched.




Fofana wasn’t among the scorers when Lens won 3-2 at Marseille on September 26, a match that persuaded Sampaoli his side needed to play more defensively, but has been outstanding this season, scoring eight goals in 23 matches in all competitions, including a stunning late winner at Saint-Etienne in Round 21.


Sampaoli commented: “Fofana is one of the best players, if not the best player in the league. He could play for anybody. Since I arrived at Marseille, he’s the player that has impressed me every weekend and he plays at a consistently high level.”



Kolasinac: "Great opportunity for me"


OM have signed Cédric Bakambu and Sead Kolasinac this window. Signed without a fee being paid to Arsenal, and having penned a contract through to June 2023, the Bosnian international said: “I’d already spoken to (president) Pablo Longoria in the past. I’ve closely followed the club’s results and I already know several OM players. That will help me integrate. Matteo (Guendouzi), William (Saliba) and Amine (Harit) will be precious to me. It’s a great opportunity for me. I think I correspond to what the club wants and vice-versa.”


Kolasinac’s arrival provides Sampaoli with an alternative to Luan Peres - the club’s most-used player - on the left-side of defence. Kolasinac has only played one minute since injuring his ankle on international duty in November but hopes to be able to make an instant impact. He said: “I haven’t played much this season and I injured myself last autumn with Bosnia, but I’ve worked really hard to come back from that. I feel ready.”


The 28-year-old spoke about his ‘Tank’ nickname, explaining: “The nickname is linked to my style of play. I was given that nickname in Bosnia. To be honest I don’t like the nickname very much. Call me ‘Kola’ as that’s a nickname I prefer!”



Haise: "Two number one goalkeepers"


Lens coach Franck Haise is hoping his side can extend their three-match unbeaten run in matches against OM, and make it three consecutive league wins at the start of 2022, following results against Rennes and Saint-Etienne. Haise will be without the injured Deiver Machado, while Massadio Haïdara and Ignatius Ganago are on Africa Cup of Nations duty.


Haise has confirmed that Venezuelan international goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez will enjoy more minutes in the second half of the season and the 23-year-old could make his second league start of the season against Marseille, ahead of veteran Jean-Louis Leca. Haise said: “I thought about this in December and in terms of the transmission of him becoming number one in a few months, to be ready for next season, there were still steps to take. I have taken the decision and you’ll see Wuilker more often. Today, there are two number one goalkeepers.”


Probable Teams:


Lens: (to follow)


Marseille: (to follow)


>> One to watch: Lille's Dutch defensive star Sven Botman