Where did it all go wrong for Newcastle's Florian Thauvin?

St James Park

The 23-year-old is set to return to Marseille just five months after signing for Newcastle.

Whilst the deal is expected to be a short-term loan, many feel Thauvin has played his last game for the club with Newcastle expected to announce the arrival of his replacement, Spurs winger Andros Townsend, this week, as reported by talkSPORT.

Signed for £13 million in August, the Frenchman made his debut in a 0-0 draw away to Manchester United impressing as a substitute, nearly scoring a late winner. He made a dream start at St. James’ Park three days later, netting after three minutes and assisting a further three as the Magpies’ trounced League Two outfit Northampton 4-1.

That was about as good as it got for the winger.

Defenders quickly sussed out Thauvin’s unsuitability to the Premier League’s style of play. Although he possesses great pace, his lack of strength, direction, and skill with ball at his feet led to many attacks breaking down. His crosses were usually aimless when he was able to get one away.

Following Newcastle’s 2-1 home loss to Watford in September, Sky Sport’s Phil Thompson pulled no punches on Thauvin’s abject display saying: “he's awful, he just runs with the ball all the time, there's never any end product. He looks very lightweight, and gets pushed off by a lot of physical players. He runs down a lot of blind alleys. There's no sort of creativity from him at all."

Focusing on the same game, Magpies legend and Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer called his “lack of quality alarming” in the final third, as quoted by the Chronicle, whilst his defensive capabilities were also called into question as he regularly failed to track back: “He might be able to do that in the French league but you can’t do that in the Premier League”.

The former France Under-21 star was hauled off after dire first half against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup in September and subjected to ridicule in the press, including a first ever ‘1/10’ performance rating from the Daily Mail.

In the months since, Thauvin has seen less and less first team action for Newcastle.

The final straw came against Watford in the FA Cup this month, where the winger was booed by his own fans when on as a substitute.

Since then, Thauvin is rumoured to be in favour of a switch back to Marseille to revive his confidence and career.

The Frenchman's undeniable failure is one of the primary reasons that owner Mike Ashley has allowed boss Steve McClaren to bring a British core to the club this January, with both Jonjo Shelvey and now Townsend arriving on Tyneside.

Still in the relegation zone, Newcastle United needs characters to stand up and be counted for if they are to escape.

Florian Thauvin unfortunately does not fit the above criteria. However the lesson learned by all involved, however expensive, may be a valuable one when it comes to the North-East clubs transfer dealings going forward.

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