'Marseille are counting on me' - Germain
Olympique de Marseille have boasted some wonderful strikers, from Josip Skoblar to Jean-Pierre Papin or Didier Drogba. Following in those legendary footsteps isn't easy, though, as current hitman Valère Germain is finding out.
"He doesn't have what it takes to play alone as centre forward at a club of Marseille standings," one OM fan told the Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS. "He doesn't have the presence to be a Marseille striker. It's too tough for him," said another.
Local lad Germain scored 18 goals in all competitions last year, yet many fans are still hoping for the arrival of another, big-name forward. For Germain, that would be utterly unnecessary.
Great season ahead?
"The club are counting on me," he said. "The coach [Rudi Garcia] told me that in pre-season and said it again recently. There are lots of websites who make up rumours to get clicks, but I can assure you I'm staying here, the club want me to stay and I intend to have a great season with Marseille."
Watch: Germain opened his 2018-19 account with a fine strike against Toulouse on the opening day
"Of course, I understand that at a club like Marseille, people always want more. They want big-name players and that's normal. When I was a young Marseille fan I used to want the club to sign stars, so it's something you have to accept as a Marseille player and if you don't like it go to a smaller club. I'm going to prove myself and I know I can play as a lone striker."
Following his move from AS Monaco in 2017, Germain struggled initially, and had to wait five months to get his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal. He ended up with just nine strikes in the league.
"I was disappointed with my inconsistency in the league season," Germain continued. "I'd rather have scored fewer in the Europa League and 12 or 13 in Ligue 1. I had some purple patches but I also had spells of two or three months when I struggled, especially early on when it took me so long, until December, to get that first goal. My goalscoring wasn't consistent enough overall. If I smooth things out I'm convinced I can have a really good season."
The up and down nature of Germain's performances could be attributed to his new role. While the Frenchman flourished playing alongside Alassane Pléa at OGC Nice, or Radamel Falcao at Monaco, he's essentially been used as a lone striker by Garcia at Marseille.
Falcao and Germain won Ligue 1 Conforama together with Monaco in 2017
"I'd always played as one of two forwards whereby I wasn't necessarily the team's main scorer," explained Germain. "I'd be the second striker, who'd run off the No.9, looking for solutions and scoring goals. That's always been my style, I don't know if I can change that. I think it's just the way I am. Last season my teammates often told me to play for myself more because I'm used to making runs that help the centre forward like Falcao, for example. I learned to get in the box more last season, to go wide a bit less often. It's something I'm working on again this term."
'I'll score 15 goals'
"I don't know if I'll be able to score 25 or 30 goals like [Edinson] Cavani does at PSG. But I know that if I play 35 games like I did at Nice I'll score 15 goals or so. I did that at Nice so I can do it at Marseille where I'm surrounded by so many quality players."
Marseille's aim this season is to finish in the top three, but to achieve that they'll need to do better against their rivals, having picked up just two points from a possible 18 against Olympique Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco last term.
"The games against the big sides are definitely important," said Germain. "But if we lose 3-0 home and away to Monaco and Lyon, and still finish second (and qualify for the UEFA Champions League), everyone would be happy. It didn't go well at Monaco last year. We took a hit, and it was a wakeup call that probably helped us. We'll do everything we can to make up for the points we've already dropped."
Germain is desperate to make this season a happy one - and to silence his doubters once and for all.