Please believe me when I say this is not a test run, because Moussa Sissoko’s time at Newcastle United is close to coming to an end. The rumours of the Frenchman’s departure are years old and it certainly felt as though not even relegation could end the saga of Sissoko as a Toon player.
Beyond the constant public flirting with a move to Arsenal, corners of the Spanish and British press placed the midfielder on Real Madrid’s radar. Logically, the talk came to nothing, but Sissoko’s name grew bigger and bigger as deadline day approached.
The 27-year-old starting the morning as north London-bound, not to Arsenal, but to bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Chelsea were also reportedly sniffing around, but again the Spurs rumour imposed itself with the willingness to pay his £30 million asking price in six separate instalments.
Unsurprisingly, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy thought again before relinquishing such a figure on the French international and the deal, according to Sky Sports News, was off again. Fear not, because Everton have now entered the scene to rescue Sissoko (and us) from his spell with the Magpies.
With Sky Sports once more leading the charge, they report that the Toffees have entered talks with Newcastle in a one-horse race, having seen their £34 million pursuit for FC Porto’s Yacine Brahimi scrapped. Again, the Championship club are willing to take their cash in instalments, with the player already in English territory after being granted permission by the France national team to hold talks regarding his future.
Sissoko’s arrival offers Ronald Koeman a different tool to utilise in his debut season at Goodison Park, with the midfielder capable of fulfilling the box-to-box role just as well as he operates as an industrious wide man, a quality that saw him feature more prominently for France in the latter stages of their Euro 2016 campaign this summer.
The one goal scored by the imposing figure of Sissoko leaves him trailing behind most competing against him for a first XI spot in the blue half of Merseyside, but the seven assists registered in 37 league appearances for Newcastle does see him rank highly among his new potential teammates, bettered only by mainstay Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, both on eight assists for the campaign just gone.
Despite playing predominantly out wide for Newcastle, only James McCarthy (61) and Idrissa Gana Gueye (108) won more tackles than the ex-Toulouse star on 46, meanwhile Sissoko comes out on top versus McCarthy’s in success rate with 51% to 44%.
To go with Sissoko’s misfiring nature of last season, the Newcastle man also fares worse than those at Everton with shots on target, languishing behind all but the 20% registered by Gueye with 44%. Contrarily, the midfielder’s creativity surprisingly sees the workhorse come out as king during the 2015/16 season after creating 56 chances, one better than Barkley’s record.
His average defensive actions of two-per-game see him well intertwined among Koeman’s options, but his transition-led nature sees him pair up with Deulofeu and trail others in pass accuaracy (average of 76%).
For all that statistics are worth, Sissoko perhaps doesn’t quite warrant the superstar status that habitually comes with a £30 million move, but his numbers do translate well enough to see him as a sound addition with regards to Everton’s depth.
Update: Tottenham have pipped Everton to the signing of Sissoko