Last season, Newcastle United brought striker Papiss Cisse to Tyneside on a £10 million January deal, and he responded by taking the Premier League by storm.
Cisse was arguably Newcastle’s best and most important player last season in the stretch that landed them a spot in the Europa League, as his unbelieving goalscoring ability carried them through a number of tough games.
That’s not to downplay the importance of Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye and the rest, but it seemed to always be Cisse who finished the job in front of goal.
When it was all said and done, Cisse had scored 13 goals in his first 14 games, which was one of the greatest 14-game stretches in NUFC history.
Newcastle’s new number 9 played to the level of his legendary predecessors – Alan Shearer, Super Mac and Jackie Milburn to name but a few – but what separates them is that they kept up that level of play for years and years. Can Cisse do the same?
Next season will be Cisse’s first full crack at the Premier League, and the 38-game schedule will bring about its fair share of problems for the striker. The Premier League boasts a lot of great defenders that he’s yet to face, and the jury is still out on whether or not he’ll be able to produce against elite opposition over an extended period of time.
That said, there’s nothing that any defender – no matter how good – can do about shots like this.
A lot of Cisse’s success last season came down to the presence of his strike partner and Senegalese compatriot, Demba Ba. Though he had a bit of a drought towards the end of the year, teams still had to make Ba a huge part of their defensive gameplan, and it’ll be the same next season if Newcastle can keep a hold of him. Keeping Ba will be a great way to stop teams from getting too keyed in on Cisse, allowing him to flourish like he did last season.
Cisse’s track record shows that keeping form over an entire season has never been a problem for him – he’s scored over 16 goals in each of the last 4 seasons – but then again, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1 don’t quite provide the challenge that the Premier League will.
As his most expensive signing yet, Alan Pardew obviously has faith that Cisse isn’t a one-hit wonder, and as we advance through pre-season, it shouldn’t be too long until we see if his faith will pay off.