Silent Florian Thauvin’s feet haven’t done his talking at Newcastle

Florian Thauvin
Florian Thauvin

Andros Townsend hasn’t kicked a ball in the Premier League for months.

Florian Florian hasn’t fared much better at Newcastle United, the club Townsend is set to join in a £12million deal.

It had all seemingly started so well for Thauvin, signed for the same amount last August.

Six days after joining the club from Olympique Marseille, the winger scored one goal and set up three more in a 4-1 Capital One Cup win over Northampton Town.

Left-footed Thauvin, fielded on the right side of midfield, wreaked havoc.

Admittedly, that night’s opposition played in League Two, but it was a start. And a good one at that.

Remy Cabella

Remy Cabella

Sadly, Thauvin – who could return to Marseille on loan once the Townsend deal is confirmed – has looked anything but convincing against Premier League in the intervening five months.

The signing of the 24-year-old now looks like it will prove to be an expensive mistake.

Would Newcastle, a club which is in danger of being relegated to the Championship, have been better perservering with Remy Cabella?

Cabella went in the other direction on loan and has now triggered a permanent move to Marseille with his appearances for the Ligue 1 club.

Graham Carr

Graham Carr

Instead of seeing if Cabella, a likeable and cheerful character, would flourish during his all-important second season in England, Newcastle moved him on and started all over again with Thauvin, a player who had struggling for form at the Stade Velodrome last season.

It hasn’t worked.

Thauvin’s undoubtedly gifted, but that Northampton game aside, he hasn’t looked interested.

Gift needs to be backed up with graft these days – just look at how hard Ayoze Perez works off the ball.

Some supporters have argued that he’s hardly had a chance, but when he has played, he’s looked lightweight.

Remember his lifeless and lethargic first-half performance against Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup?

It wasn’t a surprise to see him replaced at the break.

Thauvin doesn’t speak to journalists, but we know he wants to leave St James’s Park – sooner rather than later.

United have a depreciating asset, and one just months into a lucrative five-year deal, on their hands.

So much for the “value” the club feels it gets in the French market.

The only place Thauvin can go in this month’s transfer window is Marseille because of FIFA rules which forbid a player turning out for three clubs in a season.

Townsend, an England international who hopes to play at Euro 2016 in the summer, looks a much safer bet.

The 24-year-old – who fall out of favour at Tottenham late last year after a row with fitness coach Nathan Gardiner – won’t need time to adjust to the Premier League, though he will be short of match fitness after being restricted to Under-21 Premier League football.

Newcastle fans have long loved wingers.

And Townsend was saying the right things yesterday before he flew up to Tyneside with his representatives.

“Two of the best positions you can play in football are centre-forward and left-wing at Newcastle,” he said.

“I’ve got the chance – I could never turn that down.”

Thauvin, by contrast, has barely said a word since joining United.

The France Under-21 international, I was once told, “doesn’t do interviews”.

Most journalists have given up asking to speak to him in post-game mixed zones.

Thauvin doesn’t even reply when asked.

It would have been nice of him to talk to the club’s supporters about his new life at Newcastle, but his silence has been deafening.

Some fans reacted angrily to his recent performance off the bench in the FA Cup defeat to Watford earlier this month.

There were boos from a few supporters in the Vicarage Road end after he went down under a challenge, and Thauvin wasn’t seen for the next two games, having suffered a “knock”.

McClaren, United’s head coach, had talked up Thauvin before that tie.

“He is close to starting,” said McClaren. “He has been doing well.”

McClaren, however, wasn’t convincing, and the following week he opened up more on Thauvin.

“He hasn’t settled and adapted as quickly as we wanted, or he wanted, or played as many times as he has,” said McClaren.

“So that’s frustrating for him.”

Asked about a return to Marseille for Thauvin, McClaren added: “He’s our player and we believe in his potential.”

Still not convincing, I’m afraid.

One player I spoke to recently – and I’m talking about a player who has played a lot of games on both sides of the Channel – questioned whether Thauvin had the “English mentality” needed for the Premier League.

We can safely assume McClaren has had more of a say in the arrival of Townsend, a player we didn’t need chief scout Graham Carr to uncover.

So Newcastle, so long fixated on the French, Belgian and Dutch markets, have signed two full England internationals this month, with Townsend having followed Jonjo Shelvey through the doors at st James’s Park.

The signings aren’t without risk – no deal is risk-free, however expensive – but they significantly strengthen McClaren’s squad.

And if midfielder Henri Saivet, signed from Bordeaux, can quickly adjust to English football, all the better.

The club still needs a striker, of course, but Townsend and Shelvey give the squad a better balance.

And Townsend, in particular, is ready to make up for lost time after the longest two months of his career.