As the most lucrative top flight in world football, sometimes it’s difficult to understand why a player being targeted by several Premier League clubs would turn them down for a less financially endowed league like the Bundesliga.
But not everything in the beautiful game is about the money, and that’s exactly the decision in-form striker Alassane Plea took in the summer. He’s now reaping the rewards from joining a Gladbach side currently just three points off the top of the German table.
After two free-scoring campaigns at Nice that saw him net 35 times in total, West Ham and Newcastle both targeted the French forward this summer according to Monaco-Matin (via Newcastle Chronicle), with the Magpies even prepared to break their record transfer fee to bring him to St. James’ Park and pay him better terms than what was offered by the Bundesliga side.
But it’s reported Plea turned both Premier League sides down for non-financial reasons and was simply more impressed with the ‘sporting project’ at Gladbach, despite them finishing a mere ninth in the German top flight last season.
The gamble has certainly paid off, though. Plea is now amid a seven-game run in the Bundesliga in which he has either scored or assisted, the only exception being his league debut for Gladbach when the 25-year-old came on as a late substitute. He’s also averaged the fifth-most shots per match of any player in the division and been dispossessed just three times – a phenomenal return for a forward expected to take risks on the ball.
In turn, Plea – who Transfermarkt now value at £25.2million following his move from Lyon – has been a key factor in Gladbach’s rise to second place, with only Borussia Dortmund bagging more points and scoring more goals after eight games. And although Plea’s decision was made in spite of the favourable terms on offer at St. James’ Park, you have to wonder whether a Newcastle side that has scored just six times this season would be in the relegation zone right now if Plea were leading their line.
Performances and results will decide Newcastle’s survival this season, but failing to convince Plea during the summer is already proving to be an underlying influence.