Many a football player, coach, pundit, fan, and so on, have often said something along the lines of: “A lack of ability can be forgiven, but a lack of effort cannot.”
In the case of one Newcastle player making the headlines this week, he has bags and bags of one, and simply not enough of the other.
Moussa Sissoko finally came out to everyone this week with the words that we all knew were coming, he wanted to leave Newcastle United following the club’s relegation.
Of course, there was little surprise with the Frenchman’s desire to leave, but a lot of surprise and anger with the manner of it. I, for one, can’t wait to see the back of him.
The whole interview where he made the admission was just riddled with ridiculousness. The fact that a player who is largely at fault for the club’s relegation wants to leave because of it, is just absurd.
Obviously there were a lot of people that made a lot of mistakes, both on and off the pitch, that have eventually led to Newcastle having to play Championship football next season. But when you consider a player like Moussa Sissoko, who, in my eyes, is a ridiculously talented footballer who just hasn’t done anywhere near what we’d expect of him, how can we be expected to accept his desired move away?
A guy of that physicality could have kept us up almost single-handedly. He’s strong, he’s quick, can pass the ball well, when he gets going he’s impossible to defend against. Tottenham were on the end of a Sissoko masterclass on the final day of the season, which resulted in them shipping five goals! That day, Sissoko was absolutely immense.
Had he even shown glimpses of that form on a consistent basis, we’d probably still be a Premier League side.
But where was this fast, powerful, lung-busting workhorse away at Aston Villa? Where was he during all of the limp 1-0 losses around the New Year?
No, he saves what was his best ever performance in a black-and-white shirt for a day where relegation was confirmed, at he had one final chance, firmly in the shop window, to show the world what he can do.
He is one of the main reasons we’re now a second-tier side, and yet he feels he is too good for this level, and daren’t even think about staying to make amends.
He argues that he needs to move on for the sake of his international career, which alone doesn’t give him much of a leg to stand on.
For one, he’s way down the pecking order in terms of the French national squad. Consider their midfield options:
Paul Pogba, better than Moussa Sissoko.
Blaise Matuidi, better than Moussa Sissoko.
N’Golo Kante, better than Moussa Sissoko.
Yohan Cabaye, I would argue, better than Moussa Sissoko.
I don’t think he’s ever been a first-team midfielder for France, usually a bit part player who mostly gets his chance in the meaningless friendless or walking-pace qualifiers over the likes of Estonia or Lithuania.
I also don’t see why it would be absurd to imagine that he could keep his place in the French squad if he stays. The coaching staff and the players all know what he brings to the squad, what he can do, that won’t change by playing in a Championship that is becoming increasingly competitive and containing much more quality.
His compatriot Andre-Pierre Gignac, now plying his trade in the Mexican league, is still a mainstay in the French squad. This may be somewhat ignorant, but in terms of their reputations, I wouldn’t imagine the Mexican league and the Championship being too far apart in terms of quality.
If Sissoko stays, does what he can do, week-in, week-out, and tears apart England’s 2nd tier, the powers-that-be in France would be foolish to ignore him.
Sissoko was pleading to Newcastle United to “be smart enough” to let him move on. Preferably to another English club, but one that will be involved in the Champions League next season. Arsenal, in particular, seems to be the move he fancies.
If any Arsenal fans have happened to take the time out to read this, I will thoroughly warn you not to be excited about Moussa Sissoko.
To be fair, should he join, for the first couple of months in your side you’ll find yourselves laughing at our criticism of him. No doubt, for the first few games, he’ll be the standout player with a point to prove, who will dominate the field of play.
But then, Arsenal’s annual mid-term wobble will start to take shape. Results and performances will decline, the fans will once again grow restless with the manager, and you’ll ultimately have to settle for another season in which you could well have ended as champions, but instead you’ve got your Champions League spot.
And let me tell you, when things start to go a bit wrong, when frustrations begin to mount, Moussa Sissoko will be one of the first players to go into hiding.
All I can do is hope, for your sake, that Wenger will have more than enough quality options in midfield to take his place. The lack of competition in Newcastle’s midfield over the last few years has meant that Sissoko has managed to squirm his way into being one of the first names on the teamsheet, regardless of how poor his form has been. For Arsenal fans, I can only hope he doesn’t get the chance to do the same for you.
As much as I hope that the self-loving mercenary that is Moussa Sissoko does depart, it would also bring a big smile to my face if Benitez blocked a move away, and forced him to actually do the honourable thing and fight to get us back to the division he helped remove us from. Oh, how he would love that!
Regardless, if he does move on. I’m sure he won’t be missed.
You can follow the author on Twitter @RhysMelhuish22