Having watched Moussa Sissoko appear, and even using that word is a stretch, for Newcastle United on 37 different occasions in the Premier League last season, you could say that his performances for France at the European Championship left me feeling a little salty.
Billed as a box-to-box midfield engine that can grab games by the scruff of the neck, which he’s done on a couple of occasions on Tyneside, his abject performances for the Toon throughout 2015-16 made his Euro something like a slap in the face to Newcastle fans.
He’s exempt from shouldering the entirety of the relegation blame because he failed just as miserably as everyone else around him. It’s difficult to distinguish a weak link when your chain is the kind they make in elementary art class with paper.
His return of one goal in 39 matches across all competitions is damning, but it’s the fact that the guy is genuinely talented that made his season so infuriating.
Regardless of where you stand with regards to his talent, the 26-year-old has drawn the ire of Newcastle supporters for repeatedly issuing come-and-get-me pleas after every match wherein he resembles a quasi-Yaya Toure or Steven Gerrard.
Sissoko has batted his eyelashes at Arsenal for three years, prefacing these comments with the fact that he’s supported the London club since his childhood (as if that will placate the Newcastle supporters that live and breathe their own club):
“I would like to continue my career in England, in a club that plays Champions League football…Everyone knows, I often said it when I was young, Arsenal is the club of my heart…The beautiful Arsenal. We will see," says Sissoko.
Last year, he even self-confirmed interest from Chelsea and then manager Jose Mourinho:
“Is [Mourinho] following my progress? According to what I am hearing, yes…Champions League football? All players dream of playing in this competition. I hope to participate in it one day.”
Now, amidst interest from Everton and Tottenham, Sissoko has reached into his bag of transfer rumors and come up with this not-so-subtle cry:
“I hope Real Madrid will come for me, I’m still waiting. Newcastle United Football Club need to understand I want to play big games and need to move for that.”
Sissoko is ready for the big time, but is it ready for him? Who knows, he might succeed like he did with France when defenders were focused on shutting down the likes of Paul Pogba, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann.
However, Newcastle have slapped a £35 million price tag on the midfielder. It’s almost as if the Newcastle board are matching Sissoko’s drummed up perception of himself — telling him that if he genuinely believes that he can land at Real Madrid, Arsenal or Juventus, then they should be able to meet that exorbitant price without a problem.
That’s more than Barcelona paid Paris Saint-Germain for Ronaldinho and equal to what Manchester City paid Barcelona for Yaya Toure.
If you want him, come and claim him.
Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming