The goals are simply not flowing for Olympique de Marseille in Ligue 1 this season. Club-record signing Vitinha (23) has just two goals in France’s top flight, whilst Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (34) has just one.
Naturally, the duo are coming in for criticism. Arriving for over €30m, there was a weight of expectation on Portugal U21 international Vitinha. However, since his January move from Braga, he has scored just five goals in 31 games. Aubameyang, meanwhile arrived on a free transfer from Chelsea. The Gabonese forward played a peripheral role for much of his only season at Stamford Bridge, and he has struggled to refind his rhythm at the Vélodrome thus far.
‘I believe that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the same Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the one that we saw at Barcelona’ – Longoria
However, both he and Vitinha have received the backing of OM president Pablo Longoria. “When I see him training every day, I have no doubt (that he can rediscover his best level). Aubameyang is an international-level player. Could he improve his offensive efficiency? Yes. He has to criticise himself as well and live in reality. Will that happen? Yes. I’m sure of it, particularly because I see how he works everyday […] ‘I believe that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the same Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the one that we saw at Barcelona, but in a different context in which I am sure he will emerge,” Longoria told RMC Sport.
He also supported Vitinha. “You have to separate things: his performances and his transfer fee. I think we are too focused on his transfer fee and we put him under too much pressure,” began the OM president.
“You have to remember that when we took Vitinha, he was the top-scorer in the Europa League. That has a value on top of his young age (22 at the time). You pay the market price for players. The comparison with Alexis Sánchez is difficult and the competition with an international-level player like Aubameyang is difficult. But I think that this competition will allow him to grow. I have confidence in Vitinha […] I think he has a lot of potential. I think being in competition with Sánchez and Aubameyang will allow him to explode. I really believe in his potential,” added Longoria.
GFFN | Luke Entwistle