Some have considered it Newcastle’s ‘military base’ and even a second home. The land of France, the nation from which fresh footballing fruit continues to be reaped by the Magpies.
Such are the fortifications established by our scouting team on the opposite side of the Channel, it seems only beneficial that the club continue to search for talent there.
As a matter of fact, it is Carr and co. who might have discovered a young star in France almost two years ago.
For in August 2011, rumours arose that the club were in pursuit of Auxerre striker Yaya Sanogo, who was 18 at the time.
Around nineteen months on, and it looks as though Arsenal are set to offer him a pre-contract which will see him become a gooner in the summer. If the deal is complete, will Pardew have missed out on a hidden gem?
When Newcastle initially showed an interest in Sanogo, he had only featured in one senior match for his club and so was completely untested. Though the 20 year old only featured in 8 Ligue 1 games last season, netting one goal, it is Auxerre’s relegation and his experience in the second tier this season which has seen him spring to life.
The youngster has seven goals in as many games this term, including a staggering four which he put past Laval last month in a 5-4 win. Performances suggest that he is gradually transforming into a natural goalscorer.
The striker, though still maturing in terms of physique, already stands at a colossal 1.91m and is a constant presence in the core of the opposition’s defence. The man of Ivorian and Malian descent looks to have the strength needed to battle in the Premier League already.
It would be frustrating to see Sanogo sign for our Premier League rivals when an opportunity might have been there for the taking. Naturally, not much is known about the lad given his lack of exposure, but it is clear that our scouting team were onto something, as they usually are when it comes to French football.
Nevertheless, Wenger’s Arsenal is renowned for scuppering seemingly sealed deals, so there’s always a possibility. Perhaps now, given the ability of our coaching, it’s a case of feeling disappointed whenever the club misses out on a young French player.