There's one thing Newcastle United fans finally cannot complain about – the club has spent money this summer.
The impending transfer of Marseille man Florian Thauvin, with Remy Cabella heading in the opposite direction on an initial season-long loan, would see Newcastle’s spending reach in and around £50 million – a record high for the club in one window.
Chairman Mike Ashley has proven true to his word after promising the fans money would be invested during his final day of the season pre-game interview - but has the money been spent wisely?
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Although Thauvin has undoubted potential, his career has definitely stuttered during his two years at the Velodrome. Marseille are set to make a profit on a player who hasn’t done much to enhance his reputation since he arrived, and they gain a full French international in Cabella who was valued at around £10 million only last summer. Is Thauvin therefore a £25 million player?
It remains to be seen if Cabella’s deal would evolve into a permanent one and at that point, what the fee would be. One might suspect Cabella’s valuation isn’t sky-high after only showing glimpses of his obvious talent last term and Newcastle’s money men may well cut their losses and sell at a reduced price – in the same vein as Hatem ben Arfa and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Thauvin is an exciting player that gets fans off their seats, no question. Many comparisons have been drawn with former fan favourite Ben Arfa, but more excitingly, Frank Ribery. Thauvin’s breath-taking acceleration and inventive feet are attributes certainly welcome on the Magpie wings that sported a centre-midfielder and last season's substitute’s bench mainstay last weekend.
Wouldn’t it have been real ambition to keep Cabella and sign Thauvin? Whilst everyone would agree Cabella didn't live up to the billing during Newcastle’s frustrating campaign, a sub-par supporting cast didn’t aid him while acclimatising to the Premier League.
Robert Pires didn't have a great first season with Arsenal, but that turned out pretty well for all parties. Is Cabella as good as Pires? Probably not. But then again, did anyone know Pires was as good as Pires was going to be when his maiden Arsenal season drew to a close? Definitely not.
Point being, he deserved a chance. There was enough in his displays to suggest he could develop into a potent provider on Tyneside – particularly against Chelsea away where he led the attack almost single-handedly.
The French well doesn’t appear to be running dry in the black and white half of the north-east anytime soon. The merry-go-round with our channel cousins has provided more misses than direct hits. Sure, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy were sold on for profits, but the fans care about what happens on the pitch, not about the re-sale values.
Ultimately, Thauvin may be a hit on Tyneside and his style will be sure to draw the lustre of the St James’ faithful if he does. It could be smart business providing one of France’s brightest young sparks with a platform to grow and perform again.
But unless he is also a handy centre-half, it’s the wrong deal for the club to pursue.
The Chronicle have reported that should the Thauvin deal go through, that will likely be the end of Newcastle’s spending this summer – without addressing their massive defensive issues.
Chancel Mbemba’s arrival should have only been the start, but with an ageing and seemingly unmotivated Fabricio Coloccini at the heart of the defence, along with a shaky Massaido Haidara at left-back and Mike Williamson on the books, such dead wood can only serve as a detriment to his impact.
Newcastle clocked in at second to worst in the league last year in the goals conceded column. That fact alone should have been enough to prompt the board to make a more concerted effort in that department.
Will these oversights prove to be Newcastle’s demise? Or is lining the ranks with attacking talent the best form of defence?
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