Newcastle Flop Florian Thauvin Looks Like The Next Franck Ribery Again

Florian Thauvin has rediscovered the form that made him one of the hottest prospects in all of football.

Newcastle United's policy of purchasing young French players and selling them for a massive profit came to end following last year’s relegation. That embarrassing demise, Newcastle’s second relegation in only eight years, proved that the club’s model of operating was disastrously shortsighted.

For every revelation that chief scout Graham Carr discovered on the cheap in Ligue 1 (Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy), there were the counterpoints of Sylvain Marveaux, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Emmanuel Riviera and Remy Cabella.  

After seven seasons, all of the players had come and gone after reaching the heights of fifth-place in 2011-12 and falling through the trapdoor in 2015-16. One player who arrived in the summer of 2015 encapsulated the error of Newcastle’s ways and changed the way the club operated.

Florian Thauvin was signed from Marseille for £15 million in August. A standout on the French U20 and U21 teams, he had been tagged as the heir to Franck Ribery in the senior setup. 

This was his Newcastle United debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

A star was born. And then that star immediately suffered a supernova. The stupid cliches regarding foreign players not being able to withstand the physicality and intensity of the Premier League rang glaringly true for Thauvin.

He hit the wall in September, his only period of success lasting from August 19, when he signed, through August 25, when he destroyed Northampton Town in the League Cup second round.

 

By January it was announced that he would return to Marseille on loan for the rest of the season. Last summer, it was announced that he would return to Marseille for a season-long loan but with an option for Marseille to buy the winger permanently this summer.

They're going to exercise that option because the 24-year-old might actually be really, really good. Newcastle spent £15m on him and gave him 13 Premier League appearances before discarding him. 

I don’t want to upset anyone here, but I’m not sure the Premier League is the best at developing and nurturing young talent. On Sunday, Thauvin scored twice in Marseille’s 4-0 victory over St Etienne, bringing his total to 12 goals in 33 Ligue 1 matches this season. He also registered his sixth assist of the season.

Here’s an incredible goal against Angers from March to add to my argument. 

And here’s an even better one against Rennes in February.

Would Thauvin have eventually flourished at Newcastle? As a Newcastle supporter, I’d like to think not, but I’m pretty sure we just got rid of a really good player. 

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