Newcastle fans, like the majority of the footballing world, will be tuning into BT Sport when the 1st June comes around to watch the Champions League final in Madrid. However, for the Geordies, it will feature some familiar faces. In the middle of the park, Moussa Sissoko will be up against Georginio Wijnaldum, two former Toon Army members.
Funnily enough, the pair of them were both part of the Geordies 2015/16 relegation season that saw Steve McLaren make two Champions League quality midfield aces look like Championship flops. They went out with a bang at the end of the St James Park days, though, blasting Tottenham 5-1 on the final day of that season. It didn’t last as they were then sold for a combined £55 million, and here we’ll be comparing the pair before they meet in Spain.
£25m Wijnaldum only resided in the Northeast of England for one season in between longer spells at PSV and Liverpool. The Dutchman is currently flying high at Anfield and after inspiring the Kopites to one of their best ever comebacks against Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League, he will undoubtedly go down as a Liverpool legend, especially if the Reds overcome Spurs in the final.
During his Newcastle days, the Geordies had a rollercoaster of a ride with Wijnaldum scoring goals and providing the very few sparks in an otherwise dull season. The anomaly is that the Dutchman didn’t bag a single goal away from the comforts of St James Park and his brightest moment was a four-goal haul against Norwich City, and if he can get anywhere near that level of performance against Spurs he will be a European hero.
TT GRADE: A
Does anyone actually know what’s happened to Moussa Sissoko this season? The £30m Frenchman has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season the way he’s shone from the middle of Tottenham’s midfield. His ability to drive past opposition midfielders and turn defence into attack in an instant has completely turned his reputation around in North London, and rightly so.
Sissoko, unlike Wijnaldum, actually stuck around at St James Park for a little bit longer than the one solitary season. Now 29-years-old, Sissoko spent three and a half seasons with the Magpies following his January 2013 move from Toulouse, and whilst he did his bit to keep them in the Premier League in the 2014/15 season, he couldn’t repeat the feat the next season, even if he is now a Champions League finalists just a few years later.
TT GRADE: B
Right now, it’s tough not to give this one to the reformed Sissoko. However, when you apply common sense and look at the talents of both Wijnaldum and the Frenchman, their influence in getting to the Champions League final and ultimately their levels for Newcastle United back in the day, you just cannot overlook the incredible Dutchman in this one.
Magpies, who do you miss more? Sissoko or Gini? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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