He will wear number 30, his favorite number that he has worn so often at OM and even at Crystal Palace. Arrived at Stade Rennais a few days ago, Steve Mandanda spoke without flinching this Monday in front of the press. Barred by competition from Pau Lopez, the one who had been playing since 2007 in Marseille chose to leave his cocoon in the Var to join Brittany for two seasons. A new challenge for the 37-year-old goalkeeper, the most capped player in the history of Olympique de Marseille. “It’s a well-considered choice. The first contacts took place at the end of the season. I hooked up well with Flo [Florian Maurice, le directeur technique rennais] and I talked a lot with the coach. It wasn’t an easy choice but I was sure it was the right time. That it was time for me to change,” said the 2018 world champion.
Before accepting the Rennes proposal, the emblematic goalkeeper of OM thought long and hard. He also had to discuss with his wife and his family this sudden departure, after fifteen years spent in Marseille. “My family is coming to Rennes,” said the doorman, a bit embarrassed by a colleague’s question. And the rumor of the loan of the Pinault family’s private jet to go and see their children? “This is false information,” replied Steve Mandanda with a smile.
“Finding a way out” from Alfred Gomis
If the tricolor goalkeeper has agreed to come to Rennes, it is above all “to play”. “The club is very ambitious, it wants to go high. I’m here to help him achieve his goals. “Last season, Stade Rennais completed the exercise in 4th place after a crazy year on the offensive level and will play in the Europa League next season. “We want to maintain this ambition to score a lot of goals, to have an attacking game plan. But we also want to gain stability. You can’t lose twelve times in one season. Steve, we need you to bring us what you brought to OM”, explained Florian Maurice.
After losing Nayef Aguerd to West Ham, Stade Rennais should also part ways with Alfred Gomis. The club have informed their goalkeeper that they are not counting on him for next season. Without being ridiculous, the one who took over from his compatriot Edouard Mendy was not decisive enough in the eyes of his leaders. “It’s not easy for him. The goal is to find a way out for him,” acknowledged the technical director. Still looking for one or two central defenders, the club has put the Umtiti file “on stand-by” and is still active in recruiting the Brazilian Morato (Benfica) and the South Korean Kim Min-Jae (Fenerbahçe) .