Whilst Chelsea have paid €22 million for Ramires to come and attempt to fill the endless void left by Claude Makélelé in 2008, Chris Hughton has unearthed the nearest thing I have ever seen to the Frenchman, who was so good at the defensive midfield position the British press actually named the position after him.
Cheick Tioté may not be a household name throughout the Premiership just yet but after his impressive debut against Everton in September 2010, the Ivory Coast lynchpin as gone onto be ever present this season. His style of play and no nonsense tackling have already earned rave reviews on MOTD with Alan Hansen. He is a Rolls Royce of a midfielder who is as comfortable in possession as he is in trying to regain it.
Tioté, 24, arrived on our shores from FC Twente where he helped the un-fancied club secure the 2010 Eredivisie title (the clubs first in its 45 year history). He appeared 58 times for Steve McLaren’s champions over a 2 year period in Holland. His assurance and ball winning ability were key features in the reds success.
Newcastle did well to secure the signing of Tioté who, after a very impressive World Cup in South Africa was heavily linked with Everton and West Brom. The young midfielder is more impressively built than Makélelé in terms of height which makes him more of an aerial threat but it’s on the deck where the Ivorian really comes to the fore. His performance in the 1 nil win away at Arsenal was one of the stand out performances of the season.
His ability to win the ball and dispatch it with ease to the more forward thinking players in the Magpies team means that defence turns to attack in the blink of an eye. Obviously he has a long way to go until he can truly be compared to Makélelé simply because of the Frenchman’s longevity at the top of the European game. I for one would be very surprised though if the Ivorian powerhouse was still in the black and white of Newcastle after the summer.
Follow Steve Featherstone on Twitter @Feathersworld
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