Steve McClaren has denied Newcastle United have taken a gamble on Florian Thauvin – and instead tipped him to be a major success.
The 22-year-old forward, who can play on either flank, had a tough season with Ligue 1 side Marseille last year, coming under heavy criticism from the French press.
But that hasn’t stopped Newcastle forking out £13million and handing him a five-year deal.
McClaren says he wants a team of “characters”, with Thauvin already stating he hopes to become one of the best players in the world one day.
“He is very young. He has lots of potential,” said McClaren.
“I have spoken to both Lee [Charnley] and Graham [Carr] about him and they have been following him for a couple of years now.
“With young players, sometimes you make the right moves and sometimes the wrong moves.
“It has not always worked out for him but from what I have seen, he is a player who if we treat him right, could be a very, very good signing.”
McClaren says he doesn’t like “nice” squads and wants his players to have an “edge” – including Thauvin in that category.
He added: “We have brought characters into this club, winners.
“You look at [Georginio] Wijnaldum, [Aleksandar] Mitrovic and [Chancel] Mbemba, they are all like that.
“All got an edge, all the top players have an edge. As a manager, that is one of the things I have to get right.
“No problem managing this kind of player. It is great.
“I do not like nice squads. They can be nice boys off the field but on it, they have got to be assassins.
“You want winners and the more, the merrier. I have had quite a few with edge. They are usually the winners. They are usually the problem but it is nice to have that problem.”
Meanwhile, Mehdi Abeid has joined Panathinaikos from Newcastle on a permanent deal for an “undisclosed fee”.
The 23-year-old midfielder joins the Greek Superleague side after more than four years on Tyneside, during which he made 21 appearances.
But McClaren says he has “no intention” currently of selling anyone else.
He added: “Six or seven weeks ago, people were doubting him [Mike Ashley] but he has signed quality and we also have no intention of selling our best players.”