What would Joel Matip and Florian Thauvin add to Newcastle?
Reports in the local press on Tyneside say Newcastle United, 2/1 chances with Coral for a top 10 finish this coming campaign, will cut their losses on Papiss Cisse.
The Senegal striker’s poor fitness record may have cost him before new Magpies manager Steve McClaren has even begun pre-season. Rumours say Cisse shall be sold and the money raised will be used to fund a £10m swoop for Marseille attacker Florian Thauvin.
By no means a direct replacement for centre forward Cisse, Newcastle moving him on would suggest there is a replacement being lined up. Charlie Austin, relegated QPR’s leading marksman, is the one linked most consistently, while alternative target Bas Dost has been urged by Wolfsburg boss Dieter Hecking to stay at the Bundesliga club.
“Why would he [Dost] go there? He can play next season in the Champions League with us,” said Hecking. “He will probably not in this nor in the next or the next year at Newcastle.”
Although Europe’s elite club competition does look way beyond a Toon squad well short on proper investment from owner Mike Ashley, McClaren is a 6/1 shot to ensure continental football comes to St James’ Park for 2016/17.
Cameroon and Schalke defensive player Joel Matip is another potential Bundesliga buy for the Magpies, but the Gelsenkirchen club have denied this. The German-born Indomitable Lion can play in the holding role or at centre back, and the latter position is crying out for someone strong to marshal Newcastle’s backline.
Matip would cut an imposing figure at 6ft 4in and would bring the physicality to go alongside much-maligned club captain Fabricio Coloccini’s sense of positioning. Neither he nor Mike Williamson covered themselves in much glory towards the end of last term, but were more often than not partnered by full backs Paul Dummett or Daryl Janmaat operating out of position.
It’s this kind of situation McClaren must avoid if the Magpies are to revive their fortunes under him. Dispatches say Matip could cost €14m, which at the current exchange rate is a shade under £10m.
Controversial owner Ashley has not shown any proclivity towards spending sums that amount to £20m on two players during his reign, which rather dampens any optimism Toon Army members may have had.
Selling Cisse and taking Thauvin just reinforces the French connection on Tyneside, with the hope being he will turn about to be more Yohan Cabaye than Hatem Ben Arfa. Newcastle are far from discouraged when it comes to scouting Ligue 1 for talent, despite Remy Cabella’s less than convincing debut season in England last term where he was often shunted to the wing.
McClaren should take note that the bulk of a 14-goal haul at Montpellier in 2013/14 came Cabella’s way when playing off the front. Compatriot Thauvin, an attacking outlet more suited to a wide berth, netted five goals and made seven assists as Marseille finished fourth in the French top-flight last season.
These are not exactly numbers to make the mouth water, but as ever with Newcastle, who are 9/4 to part company with McClaren before the end of the 2015/16 campaign, there is an element of purchasing potential should Thauvin join.