It looks like Moussa Sissoko will be leaving this summer, and if we are to believe the man himself, he will accept nothing less than a move to a Champions League club – no less than what he thinks he deserves.
On the face of it, the transfer of a French international will be a huge, huge loss. Yet, is it really much of a loss at all? The lasting image of Sissoko will be someone disinterestedly ambling about the field.
For a man who keeps talking about playing for Arsenal, his passing is abysmal.
For a man said to be lethal on the counter attack, his end product is one of the worst I’ve seen in my years of watching Newcastle United.
For a man who is renowned for his work rate, his attempts at tracking back were at times non-existent.
The biggest irony here is that the man who thinks he is too good to play in the Championship, might probably be one of the biggest reasons the club was relegated in the first place. Playing in 37 games, he contributed just 1 goal and 7 assists. A truly diabolical record for a man who claims the Championship is beneath him.
Yet, there is some truth in his words.
Moussa Sissoko has some talent. His workrate, when he can be bothered, is outstanding. When he wants, his defensive work is top notch. And very, very occasionally, he can deliver a truly lethal ball through to the striker. Yet, seeing his performances when he’s not bothered, would his departure truly be a loss?
Last season, Leicester were a classic example of a team that was inferior to many others but overachieving because of team spirit, because of hard work, because players did not decide to hide in games.
Newcastle were the exact opposite, a team of talented players that did not look like they wanted to be there. In that context, Sissoko is no great loss. He is not as talented as he likes to think he is and his laziness adds to that. An inferior player, with better end product and more heart, would serve Newcastle much more than a man with no heart.
To some extent, we are seeing that with Benitez, making changes, getting people in early. For it is not just about getting talented players in, but also players who want to be there, and in Rafa Benitez, Newcastle finally have a reason for players to want to stick about.
At the opposite end to Sissoko is Colback, a player that obviously puts himself about, but is not that talented. Such players also should have no future at Newcastle. All the heart in the world isn’t enough to make up for lack of talent. It is this balance that Rafa Benitez must now find, and it is hoped that he will be able to do so.
It’s past time that the overhaul of this squad was done and players like Sissoko – talented players with no fight, and Colback – players with fight but no talent, are removed and replacements brought in. What this club needs now is a leader. A leader, unafraid to stand up, not one that runs away, and a leader with the talent to make something happen.
And for that reason, I cannot think of Sissoko as a great loss. His lack of effort was evident for all to see, compared to his efforts in France.
The moment since which I have lost all respect for Sissoko was not, in fact, last season, but the game against Liverpool when Carver almost relegated Newcastle (2014/15). His tackle to get sent off was a coward’s tackle, in many ways, and he carried that lack of interest in Newcastle’s fortune into the next season.
Goodbye Moussa Sissoko, you will be no great loss.
A Hatem Ben Arfa waiting to sparkle, away from the toxic environment of Mike Ashley, you are not.