It was about three years ago that both Arsenal and Newcastle were (very) interested in Florina Thauvin, who at the time was playing for Bastia after he had moved there in 2011 from Grenoble – and he was playing very well and attracting interest of some top clubs.
Graham Carr had been watching him for a little while at that time, but in January of 2013 he stayed in the French League and signed on at Lille, where he was allowed to stay on loan at Bastia for the season, and they finished in 12th place with Marseille second but still 12 points behind Champions PSG.
Florian Thauvin – in action for France U20 side
Florian was supposed to be joining the Lille first team squad in the summer of 2013, but before he ever played for them Marseille came in with a big wage offer, and over that summer Florian Thauvin went on strike to try to force through the move.
He had to put up with a lot of criticism from the French footballers’ union, who called his actions simply indefensible.
But he got the move – and then two years later he has signed on at Newcastle, and looked really good in his first two appearances for the club over the last five days.
Newcastle meet Arsenal on Saturday, and Arsene Wenger was one of the managers very interested in signing Florian, after he has starred in the U20 World Cup tournament in Turkey, which France won in the summer of 2013 – beating Ghana 3-1 in the final.
Florian was a big star player for France, along with former Red Devils youngster Paul Pogba – who is now at Juventus and a star of the French National side.
Two years ago, Arsene Wenger spoke about the then 20 year-old before Arsenal played Marseille in the Champions League, and Arsene started off talking about Thauvin’s surprise move to Marseille:
“It was a surprise transfer for me. We were following him and we were interested in him before he joined Lille.”
“For me, he is one of the big prospects of French football. He will go higher. He is only 20. His progress now will not depend on his talent but on his mentality.”
“We saw in the summer that he showed a great mental strength (note – in the World U20 Championships), but you can also question his mentality for the way he behaved towards Lille.”
“Only the future will tell us.”
Florian is a little bit like another former Newcastle player – Ben Arfa – where their skills are not in doubt.
But the Arsenal manager is right when he says Florian success is more based on his mental strength, application and discipline, rather than it being a question of skills or ability, which he has in abundance.
Florian has seemed to be a shy but mature young man since he arrived on Tyneside, and he has an excellent coach in Steve McClaren, who can bring him through and make him into a big star at Newcastle.
But Florian needs to listen to Steve, and take his advice – and then there’s no reason why he cannot become a big star in England.
He’s certainly looked the part in his first two appearances for the club – so here’s hoping.
What do you think?