One that got away – Florian Thauvin
In the latest of a series of articles looking back at players who slipped through the fingers of Newcastle United, the spotlight today turns to Frenchman Florian Thauvin.
Thauvin endured a disastrous spell at the club in the 2015-16 season before returning to France, first on loan, and then permanently.
The skilful winger signed as part of a big summer of spending at St James Park, which saw players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic, Georginio Wijnaldum and Chancel Mbemba all arrive.
He touched down in Newcastle with an excellent reputation.
Florian Thauvin had enjoyed his breakthrough season in Ligue 1 in 2012-13 with Bastia, scoring 10 goals in 35 games and being voted the league’s young player of the season.
This form inevitably attracted the attention of some of France’s biggest clubs and he was soon on his way to Marseille, where he would score 15 goals in 81 games.
This brought him to the attention of the Newcastle United scouting network, who plundered the French league on multiple occasions during that period with varying degrees of success.
As a cautionary tale, going in the opposite direction as part of the deal was Remy Cabella, who had flopped the previous season after arriving for decent money from Montpellier.
Given how things eventually turned out, it is easy to forget that things actually got off to a pretty decent start for Thauvin, as he starred in a 4-1 win over lower league Northampton in the league cup, getting three assists and scoring the other.
Regardless of the standard of the opposition it was a clear sign of the ability the Frenchman undoubtedly possessed. Unfortunately, that was to be as good as it got during his brief time on Tyneside.
Shoehorned into a team lacking confidence and without any clear direction under the truly hapless Steve McClaren, Thauvin would only feature on the winning side once more during his time at the club, coming off the bench with less than ten minutes to go during a surprise 2-0 home victory over Liverpool in December 2015.
Following the acquisition of Andros Towsend in the January transfer window, Florian Thauvin was deemed surplus to requirements and was sent back to old club Marseille, initially on loan, with the deal made permanent in 2017.
After initially struggling to regain his confidence, Thauvin has since gone on to show Newcastle fans just what they missed out on. He scored 15 goals in 43 games in 2016-17, before getting even better the following season when he bagged 26 goals in 53 appearances, which was enough to secure him a place in France’s World Cup winning squad in 2018.
Although he would feature only once in those World Cup finals, it is still a remarkable achievement for a player who struggled so badly during his brief time with us. He continued to impress in 2018-19 adding another 18 goals to his tally to continue his prolific form.
For me, Florian Thauvin falls very much into the same category as Jon Dahl Tomasson.
Signed at the right time he could have been a brilliant player. Unfortunately, though, he was signed during a spell under one of the worst managers in our long history, and was never given a real opportunity to showcase his true ability.
Yet another talented player who slipped through our fingers.
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