Newcastle United now have 10 Frenchman in their squad at the moment – with three currently out on loan. The Magpies are rumoured to be interested in more, but isn’t it time they gave up on their French dream?
It was the 2012-13 January window where Newcastle depleted the population of France by signing five Frenchman in one window; Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gouffran, Haidara, and Sissoko. All five were signed for a combined total of £17m, which is a pretty good deal by anyone’s standards. This was Newcastle’s attempt at proving that France was a place to find bargains. Of course to be a bargain you have to perform well, and most did.
Moussa Sissoko hit the ground running and scored twice in his second appearance for The Magpies as they turned over Chelsea at St. James’ Park 3-2. His direct running style was proving to be a real handful, but as the season progressed he somewhat disappeared from the limelight compared to his opening few matches. Mathieu Debuchy proved to be the best of that January window bunch as he ultimately made the club money. After signing for Newcastle for £5.5m he played just one-and-a-half seasons with The Magpies before being signed by Arsenal last July for a fee thought to be around £12m. A healthy profit for such a small time with the club.
In his first full season with the club Yoan Gouffran was the clubs second highest goalscorer with seven goals, only behind fellow Frenchman (of course!) Loic Remy. Another countryman – and perhaps the sole reason for a Newcastle French invasion – Yohan Cabaye left the club after many impressive performances as he returned to his home country to represent PSG. Cabaye made 79 Premier League appearances for Newcastle and although both his fee to join The Magpies and the fee from PSG were both undisclosed there is no doubting that Newcastle made a healthy profit after Yohan grew greatly as a player during his time in the Premier League.
So that’s the financial gain from the French revolution at Newcastle, but that’ll only keep the board happy. The supporters were loving life with the new signings at one stage, as Newcastle fans sported French berets and onion garlands whilst flying the French flag all around St. James’ Park, they were simply loving the influence of their French stars – whilst things were going well.
However, now that gloomy days are upon St. James’ Park these fun moments from the Geordies are long gone. But still Newcastle look to bring in French players at any given opportunity and in the transfer window just gone they signed two more Frenchman for a combined £14.2m – not quite the bargain prices of previous seasons.
So far both Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere have been as disappointing as the rest of the Newcastle squad, but still Newcastle persist with their scouting of France for more players. With things going bad for the Tyneside club, don’t rule out another ‘five Frenchman January window’ when the window reopens.
Surely Newcastle should give up on the French dream and begin a search elsewhere. I’m not saying that they’ve cleared out the entire country of talent, but is there any worth in signing so many players from the same nation outside of England? There is bigger problems at Newcastle but having an entire squad of French speaking players can’t help when times are tough. I’m not entirely sure of Alan Pardew’s ability to speak French but I doubt it’s as good as his English.
The club got bargains with their first set of signings but unless they can replicate that again, they should spend their money elsewhere. Buy some British talent again, Newcastle, the next Alan Shearer may well be closer than you think.