When Moussa Sissoko moved to Tyneside from Toulouse in the January of 2013, it was a classic Newcastle United signing.
A 23-year-old French international, with bags of potential, signed for a knock down fee with just six months remaining on his contract.
The archetypal signing from the Mike Ashley “buy ‘em low….sell ‘em high” approach to running a football club.
He was handed an incredible six and a half year deal during a now notorious transfer window whereby Newcastle famously signed five French players in a month.
Sissoko, along with Yoan Gouffran, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Mathieu Debuchy and Massadio Haidara were all drafted in as reinforcements after another piss-poor start to the season had Newcastle struggling at the wrong end of the table.
Newcastle reportedly paid a mere £1.8 million for Sissoko. A snip in the modern, extortionate game and has, by and large, been a real bargain – but let’s be honest, at that price it’s hard not to be!
Sissoko started his Newcastle career like a house on fire in a 3-2 victory over Chelsea at St James’ Park. On his home debut he scored two and pretty much all but ended Ashley Cole’s Premier League career as he tore the declining England star apart down the right.
The raw power, speed and strength that Sissoko showed in that first game, showcased exactly what he was truly capable of.
Those who were there that day left St. James’ Park with a feeling of genuine excitement at the prospect of the new powerhouse that the team now had in within its arsenal. The tragedy of Moussa Sissoko however, is that this game against Chelsea was as good as it’s ever got.
From this point on he’s never really kicked on and produced these displays on a regular basis and is easily one of the most frustratingly inconsistent footballers I have ever seen.
One week he produces one these awesome brick-shithouse displays, where he marauds forwards and goes straight for the opposition’s jugular; but this will then be followed by four or five non-entity displays whereby you’re unsure if he’s even on the pitch!
The only time Sissoko has shown any real consistency in his Newcastle career was the early part of last season. He was arguably our best player as Newcastle dragged their way from the foot of the table in the autumn of 2014, but once a big money move in January failed to materialise, he simply disappeared.
There is a lackadaisical arrogance about Sissoko that irks many Newcastle fans. It’s certainly not unusual to hear him accused of laziness and that air of lethargy that he seems to give off, especially when things aren’t going well, has long been a frustration of the St. James’ crowd. It may be an unfair assumption, but he just radiates the impression that he simply doesn’t care.
If Sissoko put as much effort into every game as he does to his pre and post-match selfies however, then it would perhaps be a different story. If I see one more selfie of Moussa in his mansion looking sad after another shameful and cowardly defeat to the mob down the road, then I might just throw my phone into the sea.
Given the physical size and stature of the man, Sissoko should completely boss games. He has the capabilities to be a real bully in the centre of the park in the vain of a Yaya Toure or a Patrick Vieira, but more often than not, he fails to make best use of his attributes.
For every game whereby Sissoko actually does look almost Yaya-esque, there are twice as many when it looks like he just couldn’t give a damn.
In fact the only aspect of Moussa Sissoko that does offer some real consistency is his desperation to get to a so called ‘big club’.
Seemingly every international break Moussa goes back to France, not with the primary objective of playing for his country as you’d expect, but to do an interview with L’Equipe and try hawk himself off to every Champions League club out there.
Whether or not he can actually cut it in the Champions League is of course another question altogether. Looking back, there are many others who have high-tailed it out of St James’ at the first opportunity, only to find that the grass was not particularly greener on the other side.
Mathieu Debuchy, Demba Ba, Jose Enrique, Andy Carroll, Loic Remy and of course Yohan Cabaye have all left Newcastle and all have pretty much failed to make the grade at the really top level. And hell, if the twice as talented Cabaye couldn’t cut it, then I certainly wouldn’t be too confident about Moussa’s chances.
You get the distinct impression with Sissoko that he is merely biding his time, waiting for a PSG or an Arsenal to come rescue him from this north east backwater he finds himself, and place him on the pedestal that he feels he deserves to be on.
Thing is, at the moment, Sissoko isn’t good enough for a Champions League side, and it’s not because of lack of talent, it’s because of a lack of heart.
You don’t get the big-money move just because you have the talent. You get it because you offer more than that. You get it because you show that along with the ability, you have the heart, dedication and determination to go with it and you show it on the pitch, week in, week out.
Given the fact that Newcastle United have shown zero ambition in recent years, I have no issue with players wanting to leave in order to reach as high as they can in the game, in fact I’d think less of them if they didn’t, but the simple fact of the matter is this. Sissoko is not as good as he thinks he is – not yet anyway.
It’s only once the penny finally drops and Moussa starts producing top class performances on a regular basis for his CURRENT club, that will we all be put out of our misery and he will finally get his ‘dream’ move.
Until that day comes, then Moussa, me, and all the rest who he exasperates and infuriates at St James’ Park, are stuck in this loveless marriage between player and fan.