Marseille appointment could hold back £18m Chelsea deal

Arsenal and Chelsea may have no chance of signing Marseille targets until at least next summer.

Marseille president Vincent Labrune has suggested that current caretaker boss Jose Anigo could stay in place until the end of the season.

Anigo was appointed to take charge of the team following the sacking of Elie Baup earlier in the season and Labrune’s comments could be a big blow to Arsenal and Chelsea, with both sides being linked with Marseille players in the recent past.

The original agreement was reportedly that he’d take care of Marseille until the winter break in France which follows this weekend’s fixtures but Labrune seems comfortable with leaving Marseille in the hands of the long serving Frenchman for the next six months.

With Jose, I am comfortable to think about the future. On this subject the coach, I have two priorities.A short-term, which should enable the group to find the mindset and mentality appropriate.Nobody could make this better mindset Jose.I have a second medium-term priority but I will take the time needed to find the right person to implement the project we have built over 2-3 year,” Labrune told Le10 Sport.

The problem for Chelsea is that Marseille would be extremely naïve to do deals for key players until they have announced who their next permanent manager is going to be.

LIVE Premier League match alerts to your phone - goals, red cards, half and full time scores

It could therefore be pointless for Arsenal to try and revitalise a move for Nicolas N’Koulou while any Chelsea move for midfielder Giannelli Imbula may be equally fruitless.

Imbula, a midfielder compared to both Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele, was linked to Chelsea last month in regards to an £18 million deal.

N’Koulou has already said that he’s not thinking of leaving Marseille and a large part of that could be down to the uncertainty over the manager.

The 23-year-old defender has strongly stated that he doesn’t want to be considered a coward, which suggests that he won’t even entertain the idea of a transfer to Arsenal until Marseille have a permanent boss in place.

Both teams will want to make January additions when the winter transfer wind opens, as they look to strengthen their title credentials over the second half of the season and both of these targets could have helped each side in a number of ways.

If Labrune follows through on his comments and keeps Anigo in place until the end of the season, it could delay the chances of any key Marseille players from leaving the club until next summer.

Some Arsenal and Chelsea fans may see that s a positive because it would allow their club to focus on stronger, higher profile and more heavyweight signings ahead of the summer where bigger transfers traditionally take place.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch