Newcastle United are no strangers to disappointing and underwhelming signings, with the Mike Ashley era, in particular, having been littered with dismal additions who simply failed to produce at St James’ Park.
Among the many who have been unable to make the grade over the last decade or so is Florian Thauvin, with the talented Frenchman having made minimal impact for the Tynesiders after joining the club back in 2015.
Plucked by former Magpies boss Steve McClaren at the start of his brief tenure for a fee of around £13m, big things were expected for a player who looked set to be the heir to compatriot Hatem Ben Arfa at the northeast side, having sparkled for both Bastia and Marseille early on in his career.
The mercurial talent – who once irked club legend Alan Shearer for turning up to a game in a tuxedo – scored just once in 16 appearances in all competitions during his time in England, with that solitary strike coming in a League Cup triumph over Northampton Town in which he also laid on three assists.
Having previously been lauded by McClaren as an “exciting” addition, the Orleans-born menace swiftly faded from view as the season progressed after failing to nail down a regular role, eventually returning to the Stade Velodrome on loan for the second half of his debut campaign.
Despite impressing new boss Rafa Benitez upon his return to England, Thauvin ultimately opted to return to his former club for another loan spell during the 2016/17 season, before signing on a permanent deal at the end of that campaign.
The only saving grace from his miserable brief spell with Newcastle – in which he recorded just 569 minutes of action – was that the club were reportedly able to recoup a fee of around £9.8m upon his departure, ensuring not too great a loss on his initial fee.
Frustratingly for the club, however, the ten-cap playmaker sparkled upon his return to his homeland, notably netting 22 Ligue 1 goals during the 2017/18 campaign, earning himself a place in France’s World Cup squad in the process.
He would bag a further 16 league goals the year after to continue that sensational form, with many no doubt questioning just why he was unable to showcase that talent during his time at St James’ Park.
After an injury-disrupted final two years at Marseille, the £10.8m-rated man opted to join Mexican outfit Tigres on a free transfer in the summer of 2021, registering six goals and four assists in 31 games for the club thus far.
Still just 29, that represented something of a left-field move for a player who had seemingly rebuilt his stock after his difficult stint in England, having reportedly snubbed approaches from a host of Europe’s elite clubs in order to make the move to North America.
Although it may well be a case of what might have been as far as Newcastle supporters were concerned, the lingering feeling is that McClaren and co still suffered a major blunder in pushing through the deal, even though he has subsequently impressed elsewhere.