Arsenal, Newcastle, and the 'French invasion'

Newcastle United are welcoming as many French players as possible to the club, in an echo of Arsene Wenger's early days at Arsenal. Should the Gunners have made more of a play for any of the new Toon stars?

Newcastle's transfer window additions are pretty impressive to say the least. Five players representing the cream of French talent from Ligue One snapped up for roughly a combined £18 million. In Liverpool terms that's just over half an Andy Carroll.

It's little wonder Premier League clubs elect to do their transfer business abroad rather than buy British, and it is something Newcastle have been trying to perfect for years.

It's why they brought in Dennis Wise back in 2008, in an ill-fated spell to identify top talent from around Europe. A look at how Xisco and Ignacio Gonzalez turned out, gave little surprise to the fact Wise left the club within a year.

Since then though Newcastle have stuck to their philosophy of buying cheap talent from Europe, and it's worked wonders - Cheik Tiote, Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye are a trio who represent that perfectly.

This window they have taken it a step further, signing not one, not two, buy five players from France.

A set of supporters who should be watching on with interest, are Arsenal fans. After all, raiding Ligue One was exactly what Arsene Wenger used to do, and was the very cornerstone of his success in his first seven years at the club.

Among Arsenal's early French signings were the midfield duo of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit - snapped up for a combined £6 million. Bargain.

There were a few misses too- David Grondin anyone? But the low price of the signings mean they come with little risk. 

It would even get better, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires arriving later, and writing their names in Gunners history with the unbeaten season in 2003-04 and the 2002 double before that.

Arsenal haven't abandoned Ligue One signings by any means, but in recent years they just haven't had the same impact; Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh illustrating that.

There are successes though, Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny are solid first team regulars, while last season's capture Olivier Giroud is showing signs of real class with four goals in his last two games, 13 in total for the season.

So should Arsenal have made more of a play for the Frenchmen signed by Newcastle this window? So far the Gunners have yet to make a single addition.

They were heavily linked with Mapou Yanga-M'biwa, but their dithering last summer allowed Newcastle to snap him up. They were also linked with Moussa Sissoko, and the bargain-priced midfielder would have been a perfect replacement for Alex Song in the centre of the park, with the Cameroonian never really replaced.

Back in the mid-to-late 90s, Arsenal were the lead destination for French imports, with a similar domino effect taking place at Highbury to what is now going on at St James Park.

Their success has inevitably seen others follow, and now Ligue One is a pond with more competitors fishing in it than previously. It's becoming even more of a challenge to pluck raw gems from the division because half the Premier League is looking in the same direction.

How Newcastle get on with their new additions will be interesting, if they are successful recruits, Mike Ashley will likely find it won't be so simple to do business there in the future, as just like Arsene Wenger is finding now - the number of clubs battling for the top talent will likely increase tenfold.

What do you make of Newcastle's additions? Should Arsenal have gone in for any of them?

image: © toksuede

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