Newcastle United: Nouveau Château - The French Revolution in Newcastle

January 30, 2013 in Premier League, Transfers

January has been a very interesting month for Newcastle in the transfer market. A well publicised ‘done deal’ for Loïc Rémy didn’t go according to plan, as it got hijacked by QPR at the last minute, cueing lots of people, including myself, to say that Newcastle wouldn’t have much luck in this transfer window, but my oh my how wrong we all were.

Newcastle have signed five players in the window so far, more than any other team in the league, and every single one of them is from France’s Ligue 1. I’m going to speak a bit about each of their signings, and tell you how they may well affect the team from now until the end of the season.

Mathieu Debuchy

Mathieu Debuchy was first noticed by most of Europe when he starred for France in their campaign during Euro 2012. A centre midfielder turned right back, he is well known for his attacking ability, and runs along the wing. He is also a member of the Lille team that managed to shock the nation and win Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France back in 2011, along with the likes of Eden Hazard, Moussa Sow, and of course, his best friend, and now Newcastle team mate, Yohan Cabaye. Debuchy had been chased by Newcastle before, and was widely expected to sign during the summer of 2012, but that deal didn’t go through, and was presumed dead in the water. However, Newcastle returned in December with a bid for the right back, and in early January, he became their first signing, joining for a reported £5.5m on a five and a half year deal, keeping him at the club until 2018, taking the squad number 26. Obviously, with this move, he moves above Danny Simpson in the pecking order, who still hasn’t signed a new contract, and tweeted over the weekend that he will miss a restaurant in Newcastle, increasing speculation that he will leave the club on a free when his deal runs out.

Mapou Yanga-M’Biwa

Probably one of the most exciting signings Newcastle have had in a while, centre back Yanga-M’Biwa has joined the club, once again, on a five and a half year deal, for roughly £6.5m. Whilst primarily a centre back, Mapou, as he likes to be called, can play anywhere along the back line, providing cover for the entire defence. At the age of 23, he has managed to accomplish a remarkable amount in his career. He has been capped for France three times, starred for his former club Montpellier a staggering 186 times, being a regular since 2007. When he was just 18, in 2009, he gained promotion to Ligue 1 with the club, and last season, captained Montpellier all the way to the summit, as they won the French league! All this for somebody as young as him is remarkable. During the season they won the league, he created one of the best centre back-striker partnerships, with none other than Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who at one point was also a Newcastle target. He has said that while the club is going through a bad patch at the moment, he knows that with a full strength squad, they will be back fighting for European places in no time at all. While he was widely criticised in France for moving to Newcastle, who aren’t doing particularly well at the moment, he has said it is a great club to play for and that he is excited to join the squad. With captain Fabricio Coloccini staying on, after his personal troubles and reports of a move back to Argentina, Mapou’s primary target will be the second centre back place, so he will be fighting the likes of injury prone Steven Taylor, who is a fan favourite, and calamity prone Mike Williamson. Even though he didn’t start against Aston Villa, expect to see MYM as a first team squad member in next to no time at all.

Yoan Gouffran

Signing for a fee of around £2m, Gouffran was running out of contract at Bordeaux, so the club were looking for a deal to take him away from the French club. He has signed a four and a half year deal with the Geordies, and will wear the number 11 shirt. As a striker, who can also operate on the wing, Gouffran is a similar sort of player to Loïc Rémy, as a player, who if he is placed behind Papiss Cissé, will not be unhappy, unlike Demba Ba, who has now gone to Chelsea. With a decent scoring record, as well as his ability to shoot with either foot, and his pace; he should fit quite well into Pardew’s side, and if he does not immediately challenge Cissé, he could well provide a challenge to Marveaux or Gutierrez on the left wing. Not much else needs to be said about the forward, but I wouldn’t expect to see him commanding an immediate first team place, but he is a player to provide squad depth, which Newcastle have desperately needed all season.

Massadio Haïdara 

Haïdara is still in the infant stages of his career, and is quite highly regarded in France. He has played for AS Nancy for three seasons, at left back, so do not expect to see him walk in to Newcastle’s first team any time soon, as Davide Santon has been one of their best players all season, as well as very consistent too. Signing for £2.5m, he will take the squad number 19, vacated by Demba Ba. He has signed - as Debuchy and Yanga-M’biwa also have - on a five and a half year deal. The Newcastle scouting team, led by Graham Carr, have watched Haïdara several times this season, and have been impressed every time they’ve seen him. A signing for the future then, and I’m sure Newcastle fans will look forward to seeing how he develops with the club.

Moussa Sissoko

So far, this has been Newcastle’s final signing during the transfer window, and what a signing! Moussa Sissoko is held in the highest regards among French football, and like Yanga-M’biwa, is only 23 and has had a great start to his career, almost identical if you will, apart from captaining his team to the league. Sissoko has also appeared for Toulouse over 190 times, and since he was 18, has been a member of the first team squad. He has played for France five times, and has scored 20 career goals from midfield. This deal is something I love to see in football, because you can see the player wants to play for this club rather than just for the money. He has signed a six and a half year deal, which is awesome, but to push his move through from Toulouse, who wanted him to stay until the summer, he waived his signing on fee to get the deal done! This means that Newcastle have paid again, roughly £2m for a player who would have been out of contract in the summer, but for a player like Sissoko, £2m is a huge bargain! With this deal, it will provide immense competition in centre midfield as there will be Cabaye, Tiote, Sissoko and Anita all vying for those places, as well as fringe players like James Perch and Gaël Bigirimana. He’ll join the likes of David Ginola, Kevin Keegan and…Joey Barton, and wear the number 7 shirt for the club.

These deals could be taken two ways. One - the club has secured five excellent players for less than £20m, AKA one Jordan Henderson, all on long term deals. The other way, is that Newcastle could be panic buying after a dreadful first half of the season. I personally believe all of these signings will benefit the club, because the main reason Newcastle are so low in the league is because of their never-ending injuries, and the decimation of their first team squad. But now, if Cabaye gets injured, Sissoko or Anita are there to cover him. If Cissé’s form drops any lower, they can use Gouffran up front. Haïdara will be excellent cover for Santon as well. All in all, these transfers will benefit the lads up in the North East!

Vive Le Toon!

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Until next time, au revoir!