Proving his worth

AFP

Moussa Sissoko joined the sizable French contingent on Tyneside when he moved from Toulouse during the January transfer window and the 23-year-old has made an instant impact, writes Niall McGlone.

The influx of French players to Newcastle continued in January 2013 and Moussa Sissoko has so far been the pick of the bunch.

The midfielder joined the sizable French contingent on Tyneside when he moved from Toulouse during the January transfer window and the 23-year-old has made an instant impact.

France international Sissoko provided an assist for Papiss Cisse on his debut in a victory at Aston Villa and then scored a brace on his home bow to secure a 3-2 win over Chelsea.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has long been an admirer of Sissoko and did not hesitate to pay GBP1.8 million to bring the player — who would have been a free agent in the summer — to St. James’ Park.

“He was out of contract at the end of the season and we could perhaps have picked him up for nothing. I kind of argued the case — let’s do it right now, let’s not mess about. We managed to do that and we’ve got out reward,” said Pardew.

Sissoko has Malian parents and was born in the suburbs of Paris. He went on to join local club Esperance Aulnay at the age of six before moving to Red Star FC.

After rejoining Esperance Aulnay he signed for French Ligue 1 side Toulouse, where he progressed through the club’s Academy. He reportedly attracted interest from English Premier League clubs Liverpool and Bolton even before making his debut for Toulouse at the age of 17.

Sissoko’s style of play has been compared to that of Arsenal and France legend Patrick Viera and the Gunners were also interested in the midfielder during his time with Toulouse in France, along with Inter Milan, Manchester City, Juventus, Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

Toulouse president Olivier Sadran was quick to slap a 30 million Euro price tag on the club’s rising star in an attempt to see off interest from bigger clubs after rejecting a reported GBP15.5 million bid from Tottenham.

Sissoko’s stock continued to rise and he was nominated for the French Ligue 1 Young Player of the Season for the 2008-09 campaign along with current Chelsea star Eden Hazard and QPR striker Loic Remy. He went on to make 192 appearance for Toulouse before Newcastle managed to tempt him to the North East of England on a six-and-half-year deal and Pardew is delighted to have got his man.

The Magpies boss said: “I’ve no idea why no one else signed him. The first game I saw Moussa (Sissoko) it was 14-16 months ago and I walked away that night wanting to get him there and then.”

It can often take players time to adapt to life in the EPL, but Pardew has been impressed with how quickly his new recruit has settled in.

“I don’t want to say too much about him, because his performance speaks for itself and it doesn’t need me to give a sound-bite because he’s going to get enough headlines, but he’s been like a giant, that’s all I can say; in training and everything, the way he’s carried himself.” said the Toon boss.

Newcastle still face a battle to avoid relegation, but they will fancy their chances of staying up and Sissoko will have a key role to play in helping them climb up the table.

FACTFILE Name: Moussa Sissoko. Position: Midfielder. Club: Newcastle. DOB: 16/08/1989. International caps: 7. International goals: 0.

Moment to remember: Scoring twice on his home debut for Newcastle against Chelsea.

Moment to forget: Being banned by Toulouse chairman Olivier Sadran for trying to force his move to Newcastle.

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