Caught in the crossfire of eccentric Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa asserting his ascendancy over upper management, Doria—a centre-back with elite upside—is having his confidence sapped.
Marseille president Vincent Labrune negotiated a €10 million/£7.8 million transfer fee with Botafogo for Doria, one of the best defensive prospects in the world.
What further exacerbated Bielsa's enmity was being left out of the loop as Lucas Mendes was offloaded to Qatar Stars League club El Jaish.
"[Doria is] a tall left-footer with a broad frame and good speed," per Christopher Atkins at ESPN FC. "He has the basic attributes to reach the very highest levels of the game in the years ahead."
Bielsa was not buying into the Doria hype.
"I found out about the Doria signing on Monday afternoon when he was arriving for his medical," Bielsa said, per Hamish Mackay at the Daily Mail. "I opposed it."
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Infuriated by Doria being signed over Alderweireld, Bielsa vented at Labrune making "promises that he knew he couldn't keep," according to the Associated Press.
Doria's first interaction with Bielsa was not about being the pillar of Marseille's defence or tactics or the long-term plan of being eased into the starting XI.
It was a temporary truce to mitigate the awkward and unpleasant situation Doria had lamentably walked into.
"He [Bielsa] made it clear that the whole story had nothing to do with me personally," Doria said, per Ligue 1's official website. "It was a problem between him and the club's directors."
Labrune believes Marseille's "squad has enough quality to achieve the objectives outlined," per L'Equipe (h/t Marca).
It does, just minus Doria.
Emboldened by a self-righteous feeling of being wronged by management, Bielsa has mentally drained himself managing Marseille to the top of the Ligue 1 table (25 points from 11 games).
Bielsa has already used five different centre-backs in Ligue 1, none of them named Doria.
- Nicolas N'Koulou.
- Jeremy Morel.
- Jacques-Alaixys Romao.
- Rod Fanni.
- Stephane Sparagna.
Romao is a makeshift centre-back, as he is a central midfielder. Fanni started 21 games at right-back last season. Sparagna was promoted from Marseille's academy side.
Former Marseille and French international Eric Cantona likened Bielsa to Jose Mourinho, per Goal.com.
Cantona is right: Both hold grudges against management and are unwilling to compromise their original stance in fear of losing face.
This is why Doria is being frozen out because Bielsa has drawn his line in the sand: not my signing, not playing him.
Should Doria struggle when he finally receives playing time, he becomes an easy scapegoat for Bielsa to then prod at Labrune's competency.
Similar to how Mourinho handles those he dislikes, Bielsa's uncompromising treatment of Doria is a classic example of confirmation bias.
Doria—who is currently inactive—watching Marseille succeed affects him physically (no match fitness), and more importantly, mentally.
He will wonder if he has what it takes to transition from the Brasileiro Serie A to Ligue 1 as was the mindset of two other Brazilian centre-backs in the past.
Arriving at Lille from Juventude in 2004, Dante was a misfit, and one anecdote encapsulated his time in France.
"They asked whether the food was good but I thought they wanted to know whether I wanted more," Dante said, per Raphael Honigstein at the Guardian. "When I said no, the chef came out to remonstrate with me and everyone got very upset."
Dante left in 2006, bloomed late, and six years later signed a contract with Bayern Munich.
Prior to becoming a world-class centre-back at Atletico Madrid, Miranda was one-and-done at Sochaux having signed from Coritiba in 2005.
"When I came to Europe the first time I wasn't as ready as I am today," Miranda said, per UEFA's official website.
As long as Bielsa's Marseille are on top, Doria's affliction will continue.
If Doria's Marseille career flops, he needs to take inspiration from Dante and Miranda, two centre-backs who proved there is life after failing in Ligue 1.
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