After spending the best part of ten years of his senior career with LOSC Lille, Mathieu Debuchy decided to embark on a new challenge in 2013 as he moved to Newcastle United in a deal worth £5.6 million.
The marauding wing-back arrived on Tyneside with a reputation for covering the length of the touchline to offer support for his attacking teammates, and it rapidly became apparent that his reputation was founded on solid grounds.
Debuchy immediately stepped into the starting line-up at Danny Simpson’s expense, and the Frenchman made an instant impact. Newcastle lost six of their eight fixtures prior to his arrival, conceding twenty goals in the process, but the Magpies tightened up at the back with Debuchy in the side, winning four of the first eight fixtures he started in the Premier League.
Not only was Debuchy a notable improvement on Simpson in the final-third, he offered greater protection on the right side of defence, and it was no surprise that his performances were noted by clubs competing for honours at the summit of the Premier League.
Arsenal eventually won the race to secure his signature just eighteen months after he set foot on Tyneside, with a deal worth £13.5 million sufficient to convince Mike Ashley to cash in.
Debuchy left Newcastle with a solid reputation after making forty-six appearances for the club, scoring once and laying on three assists in the process, but the manner in which his career dwindled at Arsenal suggests that Ashley sold him at exactly the right time.
Despite showcasing all of the credentials to make a seamless transition to a top-four club Debuchy struggled to impress at the Emirates Stadium, and he was eventually allowed to join Saint Etienne on a free transfer in January earlier this year.
Clearly Newcastle completed the smartest piece of business between the two clubs. While Arsenal made a huge loss on their investment, Newcastle profited on a player who enjoyed an inflated reputation within a relatively average side, and Ashley’s ability to spot a bargain from Ligue 1 ultimately paid dividends.
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