Newcastle’s recent shopping trips to France have produced as many miserable memories – Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – as cheery ones – Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko – if not more.
However, there is a reason to believe that they have two feet planting firmly in Hitsville with their £12 million pursuit of Florian Thauvin, and that is his schooling at Marseille.
The ten-time French champions have relinquished two other attacking midfielders to mid-table Premier League clubs this summer and they have been amongst the most impressive performers of the English top tier’s opening fortnight.
Winger Andre Ayew’s net-rippling wasn’t his most prominent quality when terrorising Ligue 1 defences, yet he has notched twice in two games since his free transfer to Swansea, kicking off his scoring with a goal in the first half hour away to champions Chelsea on his debut.
France international Dimitri Payet has arguably enjoyed an even grander impact at West Ham, evading Arsenal defenders at will on his Premier League bow at the Emirates and putting in the free kick from which Cheikhou Kouyate broke the deadlock, before firing in a classy consolation strike against Leicester.
Thauvin should offer better value for money than both. He is the youngest of the trio at 22 – which has the added benefit of meaning that Marcelo Bielsa influenced his football education the most – and was every bit as influential to 2014/15’s ascent from sixth to fourth, starting 32 Ligue 1 matches and emerging from the bench in four of the other six.
It is 4/1 that a deal is done and this would complete a successful window for Newcastle, who have reinforced their spine with the purchases of Chancel Mbemba, Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic and are 3/1 to be rewarded with a return to the top half.
The same assessment can’t be made of Marseille’s transactions. As well as potentially being stripped of their entire attacking midfield unit, they have lost starting full backs Jeremy Morel and Rod Fanni, best deep-lying midfielder Giannelli Imbula, top goalscorer Andre-Pierre Gignac, legendary coach Bielsa and their first two Ligue 1 fixtures.
There is no need to panic though because the cavalry includes Premier League luminaries Karim Rekik, Javier Manquillo, Lassana Diarra and Abou Diaby. A top-three finish is rated a 3/1 prospect.