Fair to say that Moussa Sissoko isn’t many Newcastle supporters’ idea of their favourite player.
The perception being that Sissoko has been cruising this season and whilst undeniably possessing talent, has been working the system in the past 12 months and beyond.
It was heralded as a triumph last summer when it was revealed Moussa Sissoko would stay for at least another year at Newcastle, with the unspoken but widely circulated acceptance being that a deal had been done whereby he would get through to playing at this summer’s Euros, then walk away with Newcastle blessing to join a ‘Champions League’ club.
The underlying feeling amongst Newcastle fans is that despite only one goal in the whole of last season and anonymous displays in most matches (until he raised a leg in the final run-in….), Sissoko will end up leaving Tyneside without any damage to his own personal career or ambitions, whilst NUFC have sunk to the second tier.
A big part of this feeling/perception comes from his continued inclusion in the France squad, leaving both neutrals and especially Newcastle fans bemused.
However, on closer inspection Moussa Sissoko might not have quite got away with it when it comes to his rubbish club form not impacting on his ambitions.
Whilst it is true Didier Deschamps has continued to select the Newcastle midfielder (leading to French fans and media regarding Sissoko as a bit of a teacher’s pet scenario) for the national squad, when it comes to actually playing it is a different matter.
In five months from June 2014 to November 2014, Moussa Sissoko started seven games for France and during that period started two and came on as sub in two, of France’s five games at the World Cup in Brazil.
Then in the 19 months since November 2014, Moussa Sissoko has started only four games for France and not a single one in the last 12 months.
On 7 June 2015 Sissoko started against Belgium as France lost 4-3 but in the 11 games since, the Newcastle midfielder hasn’t started a single one.
France lost to Albania in the next game after that defeat to Albania but since then their form has been imperious. Without Moussa Sissoko they have won nine of the 10 games and the only blot was the game at Wembley played in the most demanding of circumstances after the terrorist atrocities in Paris. France losing 2-0 to England in that match which included a rare game for Hatem Ben Arfa.
In these last 11 France games, Moussa Sissoko has been given only 55 minutes off the bench in four brief substitute appearances, the latest against Scotland last night when he played the final two minutes of the 3-0 win.
Sissoko’s (lack of) form at Newcastle has clearly not eluded Didier Deschamps and anybody believing this to be an anti-Premier League agenda from Deschamps would be badly mistaken.
On Saturday night alone he started with the likes of Payet, Giroud, Kante and Koscielny – all Premier League success stories to various extents last season. Even Yohan Cabaye has had more football for France in the past year than Moussa Sissoko, despite Palace flirting close to the relegation zone and age catching up with the former United playmaker.
Sissoko is part of the French squad but must be looking at something like four or more injuries before he might get a start, with even minutes from the bench looking doubtful.
Moussa Sissoko’s form on Tyneside has clearly influenced the boss of the national team and if he has taken notice…then we cna take it as a given that ‘Champions League’ teams will also have marked his card as well.
Amusingly, Sissoko’s lack of effort and professionalism at Newcastle United may well see his career stall, turning 27 in August and unlikely to be more than a spectator as the Euros are hosted in his own country.
The acid test will come when we see which clubs are genuinely interested in taking a punt on him after these almost entirely wasted two and a half years since Moussa Sissoko arrived at Newcastle looking like a potential world beater, only to see his form and desire all but disappear once Yohan Cabaye left in July 2014.
If the likes of PSG (no chance) don’t come knocking, will Sissoko lower his sights – or could it be more Championship than Champions League come August?