Newcastle United and the Frenchman who got away
Newcastle United have taken on many French players that they quickly wish would go away but is Florian Thauvin the one who has got away?
Nobody can seriously suggest the winger had a fair crack of the whip at St James Park and after only three league starts he was discarded.
Following a familiar pattern of many previous expensive signings from abroad, Florian Thauvin was signed on 18 August 2015 and then only four days later was thrown straight into action from the bench at Old Trafford.
A promising cameo where he almost scored the winner against Manchester United, he then found himself making his first start seven days later, this time against Arsenal.
A ridiculous early challenge from Mitrovic saw the Serbian red carded and Thauvin then played most of the game as a full of effort lone striker with 10 man Newcastle chasing shadows.
Under pressure for results McClaren (or whoever was pulling his strings) then gave the 22 year old no time to adjust, starting him in the next two Premier League fixtures, away at West Ham and home to Watford.
Terrible performances from the entire team and two defeats, Florian Thauvin became a convenient scapegoat.
He never started another Premier League match. Instead he had a limited number of sub appearances, many of them in hopeless situations as Newcastle fell apart – Thauvin coming on at 2-0 and a man down (Coloccini) against Sunderland and when down at Manchester City.
If Rafa Benitez had been Manager when he arrived from Marseille, the United boss would have given the player time to get used to his new surroundings and the step up in quality.
I have a feeling that if Newcastle had survived last season, Rafa might well have taken a serious look at keeping Florian Thauvin and seeing if he could do it in the Premier League.
However, the drop to the Championship sealed his fate.
With Marseille willing to commit to giving back most of the transfer fee they’d received from Newcastle, it was a major factor as Rafa Benitez needed to generate extra cash to bring in his own targets BUT…
By far the biggest issue I believe, was that Rafa was convinced he needed players who would be more suited to tracking back from the wing positions.
Matt Ritchie fits that bill perfectly and Yoan Gouffran convinced Rafa of the same, after a few games in. Sadly, Florian Thauvin wasn’t seen in quite the same light (Christian Atsu is suffering a similar fate, only starting six league matches this season).
I say sadly because Thauvin has shown this season that he has got quality, Ligue 1 is nowhere near the standard of the Premier League but it is far above the Championship.
Despite playing for a Marseille team stripped of most of its major stars and starting a period of rebuilding, Thauvin has been a star man and helped drag the French club up to joint fifth in the table.
He has scored seven goals and also got three assists, plus nearly every goal has been a quality strike from outside the box.
There are no definites in football but I do think he could have been a major asset this season and potentially in the Premier League given time to adjust and get up to speed.
Saturday brought yet another Florian Thauvin inspired win for Marseille as they defeated Rennes 2-0, the winger scoring this latest brilliant goal below (go direct to the goal at 0.26).
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