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Marseille not giving up on title

Marseille president Vincent Labrune has claimed his club are ideally positioned to fulfil their objective of challenging Ligue 1 big-hitters Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco next season.

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While Monaco have already spent a nine-figure sum to significantly strengthen their squad on their return to the top flight and PSG are set to add Edinson Cavani to their title-winning side, OM's shallower pockets have meant less audacious moves in the summer transfer window.

However, in the surroundings of the Swiss Alps during pre-season, Labrune stated OM's determination to attempt to scale the uphill task facing them when the new Ligue 1 campaign gets underway on August 9.

"The objective is the podium," Labrune told the media alongside new recruits Dimitri Payet and Benjamin Mendy. "When you're Olympique de Marseille, that's the objective every year. We have two rivals, PSG and Monaco, who are monsters in the good sense of the word. The idea is to hang on to them.

"To say that we're going to beat them would be presumptuous. We're not certain, but we do have convictions: that we have a good squad and a good spirit. I think we have the ingredients to finish in the top three. That'll be the objective this season in Ligue 1: challenge PSG and Monaco.

"We're doing what we said we would. There was a double objective, the first being to keep our players who were wanted by other clubs - that's the case for the moment and I hope it won't change before 31 August. Our short-term priority was to bring in Dimitri Payet, who is one of the best players in the league. It was the priority of the coach and [sporting director] Jose Anigo."

Marseille, who were surprise runners-up last season, have been given a helping hand in their cause with Monaco being handed a three-point deduction, one point of which is suspended, and ordered to play their first home game of the season behind closed doors following violent incidents involving their fans after the team clinched the Ligue 2 title by beating Le Mans on May 17.

Match referee Antony Gautier was struck on the back as supporters invaded the pitch at the Stade Louis II, provoking the hefty sanction from the French Football League's (LFP) Disciplinary Commission.

Citing the habitual good behaviour of their fans, Monaco have now decided to appeal to the French Football Federation's (FFF) Supreme Appeals Commission in an attempt to have their punishment overturned.

"AS Monaco considers this punishment abnormally harsh and that it is disproportionate with regard to previous rulings of the federal disciplinary bodies and the absence of precedents," a statement on the club's official website read.

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