While it was the stellar defensive and goalkeeping effort that dazzled the eye in Newcastle's surprising 0-0 draw with Manchester United last weekend, we were treated to a brief cameo for the Magpies' latest signing, 22-year-old French midfielder Florian Thauvin.
The youngster nearly got on the end of a cross that would have been a match-winner against the Red Devils, and opened his goalscoring account for Newcastle in yesterday's 4-1 Capital One Cup victory over Northampton Town.
I reached out to Jim McMeachin of SBNation's wonderful blog Coming Home Newcastle, to see what he could tell me about the exciting new winger and his potential to find a spot in our fantasy teams. My questions are in bold, along with Jim's excellent answers below:
What can you tell us about the type of player Florian Thauvin is?
Thauvin is the latest in a long line of French wing/10 hybrids that Newcastle is going to try out. He is nominally more of a right wing player than his predecessor Rémy Cabella. He's fast, young and has been described with that glowing adjective "mercurial" which was last applied to Hatem Ben Arfa. We are told that he has been brought in because of his upside, his pace and the fact that he could provide the kind of service that will make Aleksandar Mitrovic into the goalscorer that he has the potential to be.
For the France Youth teams, he has had not had much problem scoring although that didn't necessarily translate to Ligue 1 success for L'oM last year with only 4 goals and 5 assists to his name in 32 Ligue appearances. He's got ball skills to burn, vision, touch and has highlight reel free kicks to his name - it's now a matter of finding the consistency and not busting up with his teammates in the locker room in order to realize his ample potential.
We saw that Remy Cabella was loaned to Marseille as part of the deal. What can Thauvin bring to Newcastle that Cabella could not?
There is a sizable school of thought out there that Rémy Cabella would have acquitted himself much better for Newcastle if he had been given a chance at the 10 instead of being employed purely as a winger. Cabella has nice skills with the ball at his feet, but didn't really have the crosses in after he beat his defender.
The team last year had bigger issues than that but Thauvin is meant to be the second step towards curing our goal-scoring woes. Mitrovic was piece 1A and once he was signed, Thauvin was always on the cards as piece 1B. While Cabella could run at and by people on many occasions, he never had that little bit of electricity like a Hatem Ben Arfa that could scare Premier League defenses.
It seems pretty safe to say Thauvin will slot straight into the starting lineup. Whose place is most under threat?
It's really not so much a question of whose spot Thauvin will take. Outside of Cabella, Moussa Sissoko was the other option at Steve McClaren's disposal on the right wing. He has favored Gabriel Obertan on the left wing for some reason... not that Gaby's a bad player (yeah, I said it) but he has negative skill points in his left foot. Thauvin will be the right winger creating the discussion "where do you put Moussa Sissoko".
I suppose in a roundabout way, it's going to be a matter of Vurnon Anita or Jack Colback losing their place to Moussa Sissoko when he returns from injury against West Ham. I guess it's not really roundabout. One of the center midfielders that have been preferred pretty strongly by McClaren will lose a spot because of a right winger. Of course, if AC Milan meet Newcastle's Sissoko valuation, then it's a zero sum game.
Will Thauvin take any set pieces (direct free kicks, corner kicks, PKs)?
I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him taking some free kicks and some corners. He has struck free kicks for goals in his young career that have drawn comparisons to former Newcastle player Laurent Robert which is no small comparison for Toon fans. I think he's going to have have a prolonged period of playing nice in the locker room before he draws any PK duties. Papiss Cissé will keep hold of those when he's on the pitch or Gini Wijnaldum, Siem de Jong (if he's ever healthy) and possibly Sissoko (if he's around) would likely be in line before Florian.
Care to make a prediction for how many goals/assists he'll weigh in with in the Premier League this season?
Not as many as he "should"? If he could provide 7 and 7 this season I think I personally would be thrilled.
Many thanks to Jim for taking the time to provide his insights about Thauvin. Be sure to follow @ComingHomeNUFC on Twitter for Newcastle-related updates throughout the season.
Finally, for those of you looking for more of what the new man can bring to the Geordies, here's a great scouting video of his time with Marseille in Ligue 1: