The signing of AS Monaco striker Emmanuel Riviere means Newcastle now have a whopping nine French players currently in their first-team squad with more expected to move both in and out of the club in the coming weeks.
And in the spirit of nostalgia News.Ladbrokes has put together a top five of our favourite French stars to feature for Newcastle United over the years.
With no sign of Alain Goma, Laurent Charvet or, dare we say it, Stephane Guivarc’h here are our big Black and White picks.
5. Charles N’Zogbia – 155 appearances / 9 goals
Spotted by a Magpies scout as a 16-year-old at Le Havre, N’Zogbia impressed enough during a trial to land a contract with the club, though Newcastle would later be forced to pay his previous employers £250,000 in compensation for youth development costs.
It was money well spent with N’Zogbia excelling at St James’ Park. One story claims a dossier put together by Andre Villas-Boas for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea singled him out as the Toon’s biggest threat. He eventually left under a cloud, pushing through a £6m move to Wigan after Joe Kinnear referred to him as “Insomnia”.
4. Olivier Bernard – 102 appearances / 6 goals
Arriving from Lyon on a free, Bernard grew into his role as left-back at Newcastle with Bobby Robson drawing out a series of impressive displays from the underrated Paris-born player, who linked up well with compatriot Laurent Robert on the flank during a bright spell for the Magpies.
Bernard was part of the Toon side that finished fourth, third and fifth in the league, and played a role in Newcastle’s marches to the second group phase of the Champions League and a UEFA Cup semi-final. He left after Graeme Souness arrived, though returned later in his career for a short stint.
3. Yohan Cabaye – 93 appearances / 18 goals
Another who left under something of a cloud, Cabaye nevertheless merits a place in this top five after an impressive three-year spell on Tyneside in which he proved to be the driving force behind Newcastle’s surprising success under Alan Pardew.
A versatile midfielder with an excellent passing range and shooting ability both from long-range and dead-ball situations, Arsenal may regret failing to sign the 28-year-old who has taken his club form through to the France national team in recent years. Now at Paris Saint-Germain, Magpies fans would surely have him back in a heartbeat.
2. David Ginola – 75 appearances / 7 goals
While Tottenham fans may lay claim to enjoying Ginola’s best years in the Premier League, there will be more than a few Magpies’ fans who would argue his best form came in the black and white of Newcastle and they certainly have a case, despite the midfielder only staying at the club two years.
Signed by Kevin Keegan after impressing at PSG, he was a player that typified a special era in Newcastle’s history – happy to attack at will but not so strong on defensive duties. His goals remain the stuff of legend though with strikes against Manchester United and Ferencvaros coming to mind.
1. Laurent Robert – 182 appearances / 32 goals
A controversial choice perhaps, but Robert’s longevity puts him just ahead of Ginola in our books, with the midfielder helping to usher in a second era of semi-golden football at Newcastle after the dark days of Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit.
Another canny acquisition from Bobby Robson, Robert was an excellent crosser of the ball, helping the Magpies get the best out of a less mobile Alan Shearer while he was also capable of scoring sensational goals when required. Like Bernard, he fell out with Souness, leaving for Portsmouth on loan and then Benfica permanently, though he never reached the same heights again.
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