In terms of acquisitions, this summer is an extremely important one for Newcastle. With money to spend, Alan Pardew needs to ensure that he spends it wisely and brings in a handful of players who will add a great deal of quality to the squad. If the start of the off-season is anything to go by, then it looks like Newcastle will be doing a lot of their player shopping across the Channel. But is Pardew wise to seemingly be putting all his eggs in one basket and raiding the French Ligue 1?
Newcastle’s first signing of the summer is likeky to be Yohan Cabaye, a midfielder who has only ever played in France. The Magpies are also being heavily linked with his Lille teammate Gervinho who, despite coming from the Ivory Coast, has played most of his senior domestic football in Ligue 1. And, if reports are to be believed, Newcastle’s number one striking target is Kevin Gameiro; again a Frenchman who has never played outside of his native country. As you can see, there is something of a trend developing here.
I’m not particularly adverse to Newcastle targeting players from France, but there are some possible disadvantages. The French League is not of the same standard of say La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga, so the step up to the Premier League can prove too great for some players. This means that you are taking something of a bigger risk, going for players who have only played at a lower level to date.
A counter to that is Cheik Tiote. While the Ivorian may not have played in the French League, he has played domestic football in The Netherlands, which is of a not too dissimilar standard. Then there is of course Hatem Ben Arfa, who from the glimpses we’ve seen of him looks like a top quality player. By taking that risk you can often get a good deal too, compared to having to pay the premium that there is on British players.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Newcastle are being linked with so many players from France. It must be a plan that they’ve drawn up and the scouts will have been out in force across the Channel. While I wouldn’t want Newcastle to put all their eggs in one basket and I think there is no replacement for Premier League experience, there are sure to be plenty of talented players for the Magpies to go after who currently ply their trade in France.
With bargains to be had, Newcastle can afford to sign a few players in the hope that one or two really come off, in the way that Tiote did last season. It’s also easier to attract players from France, who see a move to the Premier League as a progression of their career. So don’t be surprised if more follow in Cabaye’s footsteps and head from France to Tyneside, swapping a warm climate for the best league in the world!