Dimitri Payet has been magnificent in his six months at West Ham, scoring seven goals and dazzling fans with his flair. For a club which has invested heavily in the French market, it could be said it was strange that Newcastle didn't purchase the £10.75 million French international.
Instead of buying Marseille's Payet or Andre Ayew - who has been a success at Swansea - Newcastle bought the troublesome Florian Thauvin, who didn't want to sign and is already back in the south of France on loan. And the Chronicle has revealed the reason why Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley rejected the chance to sign Payet - they felt he was too old.
Aged 28, Payet is in the peak years of his career and has guided the Hammers to the lofty heights of sixth place. However, Newcastle don't like to buy players that are peaking - young talents with a potentially high resale value are demanded.
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Such a narrow-minded approach has cost the club dearly, with recent signings either taking time to settle in or flat-out failing on Tyneside. Even if Payet left on a free transfer after a few years, his £10.75 million would be easily paid off with bigger prize money and the new TV deal.
Whilst the signings of Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko are good examples of Newcastle's French dealings, recent seasons have been full of flops like Thauvin, Remy Cabella, Yoan Gouffran, Sylvain Marveaux, Emmanuel Riviere and Roman Amalfitano.
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That's not to say Chief scout Graham Carr has lost his touch - Newcastle tried to sign Kurt Zouma and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - but such restrictive criteria force the club into signing fifth or sixth choice targets.
Looking around at other clubs, why weren't Newcastle aware of Riyad Mahrez? Or N'Golo Kante? A truly good scouting network uncovers these players, rather than at-the-time French internationals. Picking Thauvin over Payet was a horrible decision, one that backfired in September when a Payet brace defeated the Magpies.
It has put Newcastle in severe danger of relegation. It would be nice to think that the club has learnt from this lesson, however, history says the notoriously stubborn Ashley is likely to carry on regardless.
Should Newcastle look for players closer to home instead of France? Leave your opinion in the comment box below!
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