Newcastle United’s latest recruit Florian Thauvin is nothing if not ambitious.
The quietly spoken Frenchman was presented to a packed press room ahead of today’s lunchtime kick-off at Old Trafford and boldly declared: “I hope to be one of the best players in the world.”
I hope to be one of the best players in the world. I need to make sure I work hard to achieve that goal.Florian Thauvin
The French Under-21 international already has the backing of Newcastle legend Chris Waddle to become a huge hit on Tyneside.
And the 22-year-old now hopes to restore the faith shown in him by the club.
Thauvin, set to make his debut at Old Trafford today, said: “First of all, I’d like to thank Chris Waddle for that nice compliment.
“It’s very kind of him.
“I hope to be one of the best players in the world.
“I need to make sure I work hard to achieve that goal.”
Thauvin, comfortable playing on either flank, is even targeting a spot in the French squad for next summer’s Euro 2016 championships – to be played in his homeland.
“It will be very hard, but it’s definitely a personal goal of mine,” he added.
“If I can settle in well and have a good season then I don’t see why not.”
Chief scout Graham Carr has chased Thauvin for two years, having first spotted his potential when he was at Bastia.
Moves to Lille and then, controversially, to Marseille followed.
Hotly tipped to be the next best thing as a youngster, Thauvin endured a difficult year at Marseille, with L’Equipe included him in their Worst XI of last season, based on their ratings over the campaign.
While Thauvin – compared to the likes of Franck Ribery and Michel Platini as a youngster – may have failed to live up to his early hype, his focus now is fully on wiping the slate clean and getting back to his best at Newcastle.
Not that he is too keen to be compared to some of France’s finest players, just yet.
When asked what he thought of the comparisons, Thauvin added: “You need to remember that I’m still a very young player with a lot of years ahead of me – ask me that question at the end of my career then we can maybe compare how I have done.
“Last year was hard for me. I’m here now and I think I can have a fantastic season and give 100 per cent to this club.”
Thauvin, who trained for the first time yesterday, has been keeping a close eye on Newcastle’s summer transfer business and he is impressed with the calibre of signings – joining Georginio Wijnaldum, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Chancel Mbemba and Ivan Toney in the North East.
He added: “They’ve signed some very good players, young players like me, and hopefully it can be a springboard for themselves, for the club and for me to go onto big things.
“I follow the club but I’m still learning about it. It has a legendary status in the Premier League and I’m continuing to learn about the club.
“The city seems very welcoming. There are a lot of bridges here in Newcastle and I can see one out of my hotel window!
“But I’ve not had time for any sightseeing as I’ve been busy these past couple of days.”
Newcastle have spent £50million this summer, with Thauvin the latest big money signing.
Not that his considerable £13million price tag is daunting the forward – who revealed Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had been tracking him a few years back,
Speaking through a translator, he added: “When I arrived, the manager and I had a long chat.
“He asked me to be an important player for the team.
“He wants me to get goals, and he wants me to supply goals too.
“But he also wants me to fulfil my defensive duties as well.
“It’s not a problem for me to have such a high price tag.
“It’s always been my dream to be a footballer in the Premier League, and I’m happy to be here and do that.”
His next priority is to get a good grasp of the English language.
“I’m going to get some English classes arranged straight away!”