Shearer – There are too many French players at Newcastle

The former St James’ Park striker has said that the influx of players from across the channel is not a positive thing for Alan Pardew’s men.

With Loic Remy’s recent loan signing from QPR, Newcastle have increased their contingent of French players to 11 out of a 31-man senior squad. Despite the fact that some of the players that hail from the European nation are key performers for the Magpies, Alan Shearer has questioned the club’s transfer policy.

The likes of Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa have proved to be important first-team players for the North East club in recent seasons, however the influx of Frenchmen became especially apparent in the January transfer window.

With the new season set to start this weekend and the Toon taking on Manchester City on Monday night, Shearer has questioned the high number of French players at Alan Pardew’s disposal.

"I don't think it's a healthy thing to have too many French players in one dressing room," the ex-England centre forward said.

"If things start to go against you then little cliques appear [in the dressing room].

"I know Arsenal had a lot of French players and went on to be successful. But I don't see Newcastle being that successful."

Shearer’s concerns are understandable, but it is difficult to prevent cliques in any team’s dressing room, regardless of nationality. If Pardew can ensure that the new players from across the English Channel are adapting to their new environment, speaking English and committed to the club, having a host of players from the same country could actually work out positively for Newcastle.

Cabaye’s acquisition from Lille for £5 million opened the floodgates for the French influx, and the box-to-box man’s time at the club has been an overwhelming success. The international midfielder’s influence at St James’ Park has been significant, and the transfer fee for which he was signed shows the value of signing players from Ligue 1.

Although Newcastle could potentially be accused of taking this too far, they have signed a number of France internationals for moderate transfer fees. However, a number of those acquisitions have yet to prove themselves in England and will need a big season to win over the Toon crowd.

The likes of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy have shown their quality back in France and have been recognised with outings for Les Bleus. These players can now be key men for Newcastle, and all three showed fledgling signs of what they are capable of in the second half of last season.

Newcastle’s early season fortunes will ultimately decide whether Shearer’s concerns have any substance behind them. If the Geordies can start well there is no reason that they cannot be in the top half and pushing to replicate 2011-12’s efforts. Should they start slowly, Shearer may well be proved correct and the club could have a French mutiny on their hands.

image: © stephendgardner

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