Sunderland's Championship rivals complete signing of divisive former Newcastle United player

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Former Newcastle United midfielder Moussa Sissoko has returned to England to sign for Championship club Watford.

Sissoko joins as a free agent following the expiration of his contract at FC Nantes in Ligue 1. The 34-year-old returns to Watford having made 38 appearances for the club during the 2021-22 season before moving back to his native France.

A Watford club statement announced: “Watford FC is delighted to announce the return of Moussa Sissoko, who has rejoined the club as a free agent on a two-year deal.

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“The 34-year-old midfielder spent the 2021/22 Premier League season with the Hornets and is now back at Vicarage Road to link up with Tom Cleverley’s side.

“A runner-up in the UEFA Champions League with Tottenham Hotspur, Sissoko boasts 71 caps for France and reached the final of Euro 2016 with his country.

“The box-to-box specialist injects massive experience into the Golden Boys’ squad and made 38 appearances during his first spell with the club.

“He served as captain during this time and scored twice, playing alongside fellow midfielder Cleverley who was then a team-mate.”

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Cleverley told the club website: “We all know his qualities as a player and he's still playing at a very high level.”

“He's going to be a key part of the squad this year.”

Watford finished 15th in the Championship last season, one place above Sunderland due to goal difference.

The midfielder’s first spell in England came with Newcastle as he joined from Toulouse in 2013 for a bargain fee of just £1.8million and made an immediate impact. An assist on his debut against Aston Villa and two goals on his home debut against Chelsea quickly saw him become a fan favourite at St James’ Park.

He went on to make 133 appearances in all competitions for Newcastle, scoring 12 goals. But the Frenchman left Tyneside as somewhat of a divisive figure due to his inconsistent performances during a relegation campaign and vocal desire to leave the club during his final months at St James’ Park.

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Sissoko left to join Tottenham Hotspur for £30million in 2016 and went on to make over 200 appearances for the North London club.

But three-and-a-half years at Newcastle clearly left an impact on the player as footage of Sissoko playing FIFA 20 against the late Christian Atsu in his home showed a large black and white canvas print of the Quayside and Tyne Bridge in his living room.

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