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Borussia Moenchengladbach's Alassane Plea in action with Wolfsberger's Michael Novak

The one that got away: Newcastle United and Alassane Plea

This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.

Newcastle hit the transfer market in the summer of 2018 with eyes on a new striker, as Aleksandar Mitrovic’s impending permanent move to Fulham left Rafa Benitez with the prospect of Dwight Gayle and Joselu serving as his only central attacking options.

The Serbian international was destined to move to Craven Cottage on a full-time agreement after spending the latter half of the 2017/18 campaign in South London on loan, and became a Cottagers man for £22m that July (Mirror).

Newcastle had already begun sounding out potential replacements before Fulham’s deal was finalised, with interest in Alassane Plea touted while West Ham United were also in the hunt for the 25-year-old OGC Nice forward valued at £27m (Telegraph).

Plea was said to be keen to play under Benitez, as well, but no move came to fruition before the Olympique Lyonnais product left his homeland and joined Borussia Monchengladbach for €23m (£20.4m), after Nice rejected the Bundesliga outfit’s initial €20m (£17.7m) offer (Le10 Sport).

Their investment was very much Newcastle’s loss immediately, as Plea took to the German top flight like a duck to water, with five goals in his opening seven Bundesliga appearances (TransferMarkt).

His success in Germany sparked interest across the globe come the winter market, where Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang offered Monchengladbach €40m (£35.5m) before upping their approach to €50m (£44.4m) when no deal could be struck (L’Equipe).

Plea’s involvement on the scoresheet reduced as his maiden campaign in Germany rolled on, but the interest did not, as Borussia Dortmund were credited with intrigue by Yahoo Sport France in June.

Newcastle, meanwhile, were once again on the hunt for a striker and completed a swoop for TSG Hoffenheim’s Joelinton once Steve Bruce was appointed as Benitez’s successor, with the Brazilian setting the Magpies back a club record £40m (BBC).

Joelinton has not yet been a success in the Premier League, however, as the 23-year-old has scored just once (WhoScored) – albeit the winner away to Tottenham Hotspur – and has struggled to make an impact beyond being the Toon’s new hold-up tool.

Against Arsenal in the curtain-raiser defeat, the Alianca-born forward recorded eight unsuccessful touches and came close to repeating that against Leicester City as he misplaced seven.

The Brazilian did not record a touch inside the Foxes box, either, while failing to pen a single shot, key pass or a through ball – the Magpies’ trip to the King Power Stadium was the seventh straight Premier League game in which Joelinton has not recorded a single through ball, and the fifth in which he failed to play a long pass.

Plea, on the other hand, has found his scoring boots again to hit three in six Bundesliga outings (WhoScored) and is thriving once more in Germany.

Marco Rose has more than just a goal threat in Plea, as well, as the Frenchman assisted efforts against 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Hoffenheim, with his display last Saturday against Joelinton’s former teammates encompassing a Man of the Match worthy effort of two shots, three key passes, two interceptions, one clearance, one dribble and one successful aerial duel.

A move would have been expensive for Newcastle to make in the summer of 2019 given Monchengladbach turned away Dalian Yifang’s lucrative advances in the winter, but the Toon would certainly have benefited from the extra funds freed to what they paid for Joelinton.

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The one that got away: Newcastle United and Alassane Plea
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