With Remy Cabella going the opposite way as part of the deal, the 22-year-old arrives as a like-for-like replacement for his fellow countryman, who has struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League. Here, we break down all you need to know about United’s next possible recruit:
Thauvin was born on 26th January 1993 in Orleans, France. After impressing whilst playing for a number of youth teams including Ingre, Saint-Jean-de-la-Ruelle and hometown club US Orleans, he joined Grenoble, a club which had previously helped nurture talents like Gael Danic, Laurent Courtois and Youri Djorkaeff.
Thauvin made his professional debut for Grenobles during a 1-1 draw against Vannes in March 2011. He went on to make three appearances that season, however he was forced to move clubs only a few months later after Grenoble suffered liquidation.
SC Bastia was Thauvin’s next port of call, joining the Ligue 2 side on a free transfer. It was there where he began to flourish, helping Bastia to finish the 2011/12 season as league champions. International recognition soon followed, with Thauvin earning caps for the France Under-18 and 19 side.
He carried his impressive form into Ligue 1, displaying a ruthless nature in front of goal, grabbing 10 in 32 league appearances. Then, in January 2013, Thauvin joined Lille for around 3.5million Euros but was immediately loaned back to Bastia.
He played out the rest of the season – however rumoured interest from Marseille resulted in a sudden change of heart from Thauvin, who refused to join parent club Lille as originally agreed. A protracted and very messy transfer saga ensued during the summer of 2013 – with Newcastle also reportedly trying to hijack Thauvin signature at this point – however his move to Marseille was finally completed in the final hours of the transfer window after the player decided to go on strike.
Since his move to the Stade Velodrome, Thauvin’s career has somewhat stagnated. 37 appearances and nine goals in all competitions in his first year represented a decent, if not modest, return. The 2014/15 campaign also proved to be a frustrating one for Thauvin, resulting in just five goals in 37 appearances – certainly not the level of performance expected from someone who was once described as a “player in the image of Franck Ribery”.
Thauvin is noted for his exceptional dribbling ability – likened to that of former Magpie Hatem Ben Arfa – and deadliness in front of goal. He is equally adept at playing left, right or attacking midfield, and possesses an impressive turn of pace. In addition, Thauvin is recognised for his ability from set-pieces – something which United have severely lacked for a number of years. Whilst he may still be raw at the age of 22, Thauvin seems to have all the necessary attributes to become an exceptional player.
Worryingly for Magpies supporters, Thauvin is a very similar build to Cabella, raising major questions over whether he would be able to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League. His temperament is also another area of concern – the unprofessional nature of his move to Marseille a prime example. France-based journalist David Crossan tweeted out earlier this week of Thauvin’s “well documented issues” and need to “get his head right”, as well as warning United fans to “expect him to sulk” if his career on Tyneside doesn’t begin well.
Despite being voted in Ligue 1’s worst team of the season last year, Thauvin still seems like a player who could thrive at St James’ Park. Much like Aleksandar Mitrovic, he has outstanding raw potential that a highly-regarded coach such as Steve McClaren could get the best out of.
Let’s not also forget despite United’s ongoing defensive problems, the team has been lacking a quality winger for a considerable amount of time. Rolando Aarons appears to be the answer long term, but should not be placed under so much responsibility at such a tender age. Elsewhere, Moussa Sissoko is certainly not an orthodox wide man whilst Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux and Yoan Gouffran are simply not good enough.
Personally, I would welcome the signing of Thauvin, however like many United fans, I believe there is still a pressing need for another defender and a proven Premier League striker. With so little time remaining in the transfer window though, filling both of those positions before 1st September seems fanciful at best.