This week Newcastle completed their most recent signing, and surprise, surprise it was yet another Frenchman. This time Alan Pardew swooped for former Manchester United winger Gabriel Obertan; initially this was something of a shock but when you look into it more closely the transfer makes perfect sense. Still just 22, Obertan could well have a bright future in the Premier League ahead of him, but can his signature be described as anything other than a gamble?
So, what do we know about Obertan other than the fact that he’s follically challenged? Standing at 6ft 1in, Obertan started his senior career at Bordeaux before moving to Old Trafford in 2009. That was the year that he was named as France’s best player at the Toulon Tournament; a prestigious competition renowned in Europe for starring a whole host of top quality young players.
That’s about as good as it gets for Obertan as following his £3 million move, he didn’t exactly hit the ground running at Man United. In fact it was something more akin to a trudge, as Obertan has played just 14 games over the course of two Premier League seasons, with only 4 of those being starts. I seem to remember that one of those was against Crawley in the FA Cup, where an argument could have been put forward for him being the worst player on the pitch! He failed to score or provide an assist for the Red Devils, managing 4 shots on target and 7 missing the goal; hmm.
There isn’t much to take from recent interviews either. Both parties have come out will all the usual rhetoric, with Obertan stating that: “Now I want to show Newcastle fans exactly what I can do. I have a point to prove and I just want to give 100 per cent.” I wonder how many players have said that over the years? Alan Pardew had this to say: “He has great pace and excellent technique and he has improved his power in the last 12 months and is ready now to make a real impact in the Premier League.” If he was ready to make an impact, surely Sir Alex Ferguson would have kept him?
That’s the one positive to take from this transfer; Man United, the Premier League champions, saw something in Gabriel Obertan two years ago. While the Frenchman hasn’t shown what that was yet, perhaps Pardew is the man to get it out of him? It’s most certainly a gamble, but you never know, it might just pay off. Either way, he can’t be any worse than the departing Wayne Routledge, can he?
NothingButNewcastle.com is looking for writers. If you love the Toon get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org