New Newcastle hero Sissoko lays claim to being January's best bargain

The France international struck twice on his home debut to sink Chelsea and, after being picked up for a meagre £2 million, looks to be the latest of top buys on Tyneside
By Matt Scott at St James' Park

When asked to sum up Moussa Sissoko's home debut against Chelsea on Saturday, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew probably couldn't have done so any better: "I don't really need to say too much. His performance spoke for itself."

The France international struck twice as the Magpies won a thrilling contest at St James' Park, including a smashing winner in the 90th minute.

Aside from his two goals, Sissoko completely ran the game from midfield, particularly against Ramires. The Brazilian is often a strong and energetic player that opponents find impossible to handle, but the former Benfica man found himself totally overrun by a man who cost the Magpies a mere £2 million last month.

Sissoko showed exemplary desire and a cool head to slot home his first after Petr Cech had parried Yoan Gouffran's shot, while his late winner was thumped home from 20 yards.


Looks to be an absolute steal at a reported £2 million as the Frenchman completely bossed the midfield. Constant running, incisive passing and strong tackling were capped off as he followed in Gouffran to tap home his side's second and slammed home the game's winner late on.
GOAL! After a little through-ball from Cisse, Gouffran uses his pace to burn down the space afforded him by the lax Chelsea defence. The strike is fired at Cech, who can only palm out into Sissoko's path, who duly puts into the open net to level proceedings.
GOAL! And it's Sissoko again! Santon comes down the left wing and lays it back to the rangy midfielder who, from 25 yards out, fires goalwards and just beyond a despairing Petr Cech.
A hulking presence in midfield, strong in the tackle and impossible to get away from, the former Toulouse man has the appearance of a classic anchor man, but his talent could not be more the opposite. Against the Blues, Sissoko completed 28 of 33 passes, with more than half of those being played in the Magpies' attacking third.

As well as grabbing his two goals, Sissoko gifted Papiss Cisse a one-on-one chance that the Senegalese spurned, while also setting up two other chances for his team-mates. The new Toon No.7 also took the initiative when required, firing six shots at goal, bettered by no other player on the pitch.

Arsenal and Tottenham tip-toed around January bids for Mohamed Diame, with the West Ham man available at a reduced price due to a buy-out clause in his contract, and while neither managed to secure a deal for the Senegal international, nor did either appear to show an interest in Sissoko, who was evidently available for less.

The Gunners have lacked a regular physical presence in midfield since the departure of Gilberto Silva and, although the Frenchman is not an all-out defensive player, his deft touch and imposing frame would slot perfectly in alongside the craft and guile of Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla.

Manchester United may well be comfortably clear at the top of the league, but several supporters have bemoaned the lack of a replacement for Roy Keane ever since the Irishman's tempestuous Old Trafford departure.

Anderson is not fit enough to play alongside Michael Carrick in the United engine room, while Phil Jones remains naive and his future clearly lies in defence rather than midfield.

With Darren Fletcher struggling to overcome a chronic bowel condition, Sissoko could have been the perfect figure to replace the Scot's all-action style.

"The whole team was magnificent," Pardew told reporters. "But Sissoko - it would be silly to ignore the fact that he announced his presence in the game, not just with his technical ability but with his power.

"It's something that has been sadly missing from the team and I don't really need to say too much, his performance spoke for itself.

"I remember seeing him at Toulouse about 14-16 months ago. There's only two players I've seen that I was desperate to get here. One was Cabaye and one was Sissoko."

14/1 Newcastle are 14/1 with Bet365 to draw 2-2 with Tottenham
Sissoko himself also remained humble after the match-winning display, instantly banishing the murmurings that the influx of Francophone players to the Toon could lead to a disjointed and cliquey squad, which was further rubbished by the whole match-day squad celebrating his winner together, with Pardew, in front of the Newcastle bench.

"I gave 100 per cent, the very best I could," Sissoko explained to the club's official website. "I was signed to do that, to give everything, to fight from the first to the 90th minute - that's what I try to do.

"I'm very happy today but we can't forget that it was a team performance. The team worked together. I played well but it's a team effort.

"Two goals and three points against Chelsea - a fantastic team - in front of a full-house, who supported us fantastically this afternoon. I couldn't be happier.

"I've never had so much encouragement and support. I always said I wanted to come to England to play in the Premier League and witness this sort of support."

While it may only be the start of Sissoko's time on English shores, one would be hard pushed to find a more spectacular introduction to the Premier League than has been enjoyed by Sissoko.

If he continues on this form, the minute figure of £2m spent by Newcastle two weeks ago could make every title-chasing side across Europe look very foolish indeed.

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