It has been a while since the Entente-Cordiale was signed, but that hasn’t stopped Newcastle United from reviving the Anglo-Franco alliance. The Tynesiders have already signed four Frenchmen this window, and with another due to follow, their Gallic contingent is up to 10.
Is it time to rename St James’ Park, St Jacques’ Parc?
Guided by Graeme Carr’s excellent scouting system, the Magpies are taking full advantage of Ligue 1′s under-priced market. For example – Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa arrives having captained Montpellier to the French title and played Champions League football, all by the age of 23. The defender, who is also a full international, cost Newcastle a reported £6.7million. What price would they have paid if he was English?
Mathieu Debuchy is also a regular in the France national team and a Ligue 1 winner. He only set the Geordies back just over £5m. Yoan Gouffran was the cheapest of Alan Pardew’s acquisitions from across the channel at just £1.5m. The powerful forward found the net 14 times last season and has been on target eight times so far this term. Nancy youngster Massadio Haidara, arrives as competition for Davide Santon at left-back and Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko is expected to join on a free transfer in the summer, although Newcastle are trying to push the deal through this month.
But can they handle with the pace of the Premier League? Well… United’s previous signings from France have thrived in the ultra-competitive world of English football. Although Newcastle find themselves battling against the drop this season, with the exception of Gabriel Obertan, the club’s French players have provided a bright spark.
Winger Hatem Ben Arfa and playmaker Yohan Cabaye have missed large chunks of the campaign due to injury but when fit, they have been undoubtedly United’s best players, now that Demba Ba has departed. Sylvain Marveaux’s emergence in midfield has arguably been the biggest positive of the season so far for Newcastle and the those players’ influence should only increase, as the Geordies’ dressing room turns more and more French.
While they must swap baguettes for stotties, snails for Pan Haggerty and fine wines for pints of Brown Ale, the new recruits should feel right at home on Tyneside. After all, the weather can only get warmer from here on in.
- Top six
- Mid-table mediocrity
- Relegation dogfight
- Going down