SUPER scout Graham Carr has revealed he had been watching Papiss Demba Cisse for five years before helping bring the strike star to Newcastle.
Cisse has been a revelation on Tyneside since his January move from German side Freiburg.
The Senegal striker bagged a brace against Liverpool at the weekend to take his tally to seven goals in seven games to help propel United to the brink of a return to Europe.
Chief scout Carr has been hugely responsible for Newcastle’s great season, helping to recruit Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Cisse, Cheik Tiote and Sylvain Marveaux for modest fees in the last couple of years.
And he revealed he first spotted Cisse playing for French side Metz while he was scouting for Manchester City under Sven-Goran Eriksson back in 2007.
He said: “I saw Papiss Cisse play for Metz when he first came over from Senegal.
“Metz have sort of a school, and they take quite a lot of Senegalese players, but he didn’t have a passport at the time. I was working for Manchester City at the time, but he didn’t have a passport to come into the UK. So that ruled him out.”
Carr kept a watching brief on Cisse’s progress, first at Metz and then Freiburg, as part of the dozens of matches he watches on the continent each month.
That hard work and commitment has helped United land a number of players for cut-price fees, though Carr was quick to give credit to boss Alan Pardew, managing director Derek Llambias and secretary Lee Charnley for completing the deals.
He added: “Cisse scored 20-odd goals two years ago in the Bundesliga. He was liked by Bayern Munich, They wanted £15m when we first enquired, and then it was 12, and we actually got him for eight in the last window which we thought was value for money.
“At Newcastle, we haven’t been able to pay the big fees, so we’ve gone for what you might call realistic targets.
“But I just go and watch matches. I go and pick up three matches in Holland, three in France over the weekend, or midweek, or in Germany, and I get a list of names together, sit down with the manager, Derek Llambias and Lee Charnley and our staff and we discuss them.
“Then, if we think we want to sign one, then Lee Charnley goes and gets a price for him.
“I’ve been doing the job for 14 years. I was at Tottenham for five years, chief scout at Manchester City for seven, and I’ve been mostly in Europe as well, so I’ve been been “on the job” for quite a long time.
“So it’s just those players that came along. Cheik Tiote was available at the right price, at the right time. Hatem Ben Arfa had played in the national side for France, we got him on loan. Then we’ve had Cabaye and Cisse come in, and Sylvain Marveaux who hasn’t played yet.
“I think Alan Pardew’s done a great job because he’s actually organised the side into a winning side.
“Tiote has improved. Hatem Ben Arfa, he was a little bit temperamental in France, but I think Pardew’s putting an arm around him now and has got him playing to his true capabilities.
“Yohan Cabaye had a get-out clause in his contract, which was a major signing for us. He was valued at £10m, but we found out he had a clause for £4.5m, so that really gave us the green light to go out and sign him and the club worked hard, actually, to get him.
“The club have got to take a lot of credit. Derek Llambias, who works hard, Mike Ashley – they’ve put the money there, they’ve took the necessary stick from the supporters.
“On the outside looking in, I was a bit, you know, what’s happened at Newcastle in the past. But since I’ve been in there working for them, I can’t speak too highly of them.”