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France United

by on February 10, 2013

Post the sale of Demba Ba to Chelsea, Newcastle were expected to self-destruct and end up at the bottom of the table, fighting with QPR and Aston Villa for survival. By mid-January, Loic Remy had snubbed the Magpies, choosing to join QPR instead. But Mike Ashley and Alan Pardew pulled the rabbit out of the hat, with 4 great signings which will probably define Newcastle’s season. Four key signings over every area on the pitch, where Newcastle had struggled in the early half of this football semester.

While a majority of those impressed by the performances of the new players will praise Newcastle’s efforts, a number of detractors have pointed to the fact, that the players have been picked from Ligue 1. Though regarded as one of the top five leagues in Europe, it has been ranked as the last one in the quintuple. The number of French signings have ruffled quite a few feathers among those who consider the club to be ideally English.

Gone are the days when Scottish and Irish players joined the local English lads, in what was essentially a complete British game. The game today, has been billed as ‘value for money’. You must get what you pay for. When Mike Ashley agreed to fund a new round of signings to propel Newcastle back into the top spots, the expectation was clear. Every pound spent must be recovered and accounted for. Newcastles’s four winter signings of Mathieu Debuchy, Gouffran, Yanga-Mbiwa and Sissoko, are all fully capped internationals and make the cut for Mike Ashley’s new rule. Compared to the 15 million pounds spent on Wilfired Zaha by Manchester United , the four signings for 17 million sound a lot smoother.

Clubs value English players for a variety of reasons. It allows them to fill the required quota of home-grown players. The fans endear themselves more to the local lads than foreigners. Also having a British contingent allows the team to have favorable responses from referee’s in domestic competitions. The cost may exceed the returns, but the ‘implied benefits’ is what raises the prices for domestic players. Under these circumstances  Newcastle’s move may seem insane, but the performances could turn the odds in their favor. A relatively small amount considering the losses can be easily managed, if the players were to put in sub-standard performances over the next few seasons.

Newcastle may be a mid-table team in England, but the prospect of playing in a English club is one to die for any player in the Ligue 1. This is mainly due to the worldwide popularity of the English league, and the monies tied to it. A player taking the upgrade from a top Ligue club to the EPL, gets double the wages and also enjoys global exposure, even though the club may not be vastly supported outside England.

The taxes are another major reason why the Ligue 1 proves to be a feeder system for the English league and other leagues across Europe. The post-tax wages in England are much higher compared to the same amount in France. When a club like Newcastle, which a wage-cap imposed upon it by the owner, the above factor trickles into action and signing younger players on meagre wages from the Ligue, seems affordable.

In the win over Aston Villa, Moussa Sissoko inspired the Magpies to a win with his sheer pace and surges going forward. Gouffran and Yanga-Mbiwa have stepped up to the cause as well, endearing themselves to the fans in their relatively shorter spells. Debuchy is already a hero and similar stuff can be expected of Massadio Haidara.

While signing a bulk contingent of French footballers, may set Newcastle’s local youth products back by a couple of years in the future, the move will surely help the club recover this season and for a few more. Before the Premier League come poaching, that is.

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