Following a second good season with French side Olympique de Marseilles, French winger Florian Thauvin has joined Newcastle United on a five-year deal. Thauvin is part of a swap deal that will send compatriot Remy Cabella to L’OM on a season-long loan, with the option to make it permanent next summer.
Newcastle signing Thauvin resembles past actions in the transfer market almost identically – the Premier League side have added French attacking midfielders from Ligue 1 in three of their last five seasons in the top flight. Notably, however, some of the signings have not turned out so well, partly due to inconsistent form and partly due to poor man management.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Remy Cabella draw strong comparisons to Thauvin, who is very good on his day, however is not an extremely consistent performer. Thauvin has the ability to run at the top fullbacks in Europe on his day – however he seems highly volatile when it comes to personal drive, and that can affect his game.
He created 53 chances in Ligue 1 for OM in 2014-15, however there were more than a dozen games where Thauvin made just one key pass. For a midfielder who prides himself in his creative ability, that is a disappointing statistic.
As well as a lack of consistency, Thauvin’s stamina is something that needs to improve. He was subbed off in 75% of his starting appearances, some of which due to fatigue, and others simply due to poor play. In Ligue 1, sometimes even the consistent performers – like Remy Cabella – do not translate their play into consistency in the Premier League. West Ham fans will hope Thauvin’s former teammate Dmitri Payet can prove that statistic wrong after Payet created 134 chances in 2014-15 for Marseilles.
Thauvin notched five goals and four assists in total last season for OM – not terrible for a young player, but when more in-depth statistics are looked at the lack of consistency becomes visible. Excluding 19 total blocked shots, Thauvin still had a shot accuracy percentage of 34%.
While there are many forwards in Europe with worse shot accuracy, Thauvin’s shot conversion ratio was just 9.4% all season. There are some games where he is firing, and tests the goalkeeper multiple times per match – and others where he fails to find the target at all. According to Squawka.com, Thauvin had an offensive performance score of over 30 just five times in 36 total appearances. What that essentially means is that he scores when he wants – but he does not often want to score.
Newcastle must learn their lesson sooner or later, and realise that the French attacking midfielders with touches of skill and lots of flair are not the types of attacking midfielders that often thrive in the Premier League. There is, of course, the chance that this is incorrect, in which case Thauvin will grow on Tyneside and turn into a dynamo that knows how to consistently use his skills.
However, looking at past records of these types of attackers who play at Newcastle, the failures have been consistent ever since David Ginola. Perhaps for a fee half the magnitude of 12 million pounds makes sense, but for a third time on the bounce? Please, Newcastle board members – be more original.