Newcastle: Ashley’s rare blinder on Sissoko

Former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley remains a hugely unpopular figure among Magpies supporters following what was a turbulent era at the club under his ownership, with the Englishman showing little sign of ambition throughout his time at the helm.

In a regime dogged by bizarre recruitment and failed signings, one of the businessman’s rare astute deals came in the arrival of Moussa Sissoko, with the Frenchman having been plucked for a bargain fee of just £2m from Ligue 1 side Toulouse in January 2013.

The Premier League outfit had moved astutely to sign the player at such minimal cost with just a matter of months remaining on his existing deal, with it having only been a few years earlier that his former club were demanding around £25m for his signature, following a £12m offer from Tottenham Hotspur in 2009.

Part of a raft of French incomings during Alan Pardew’s stint in charge, the 6 foot 2 menace quickly established himself as a reliable, yet unspectacular figure at St James’ Park, chipping in with 12 goals and 19 assists in 133 games for the Tynesiders over the next three-and-a-half years.

While the player’s final season at the club – the 2015/16 campaign – would see Newcastle suffer relegation, Ashley and co were still able to recoup a fairly hefty fee of around £30m following his departure to Spurs late in the window.

That figure was likely enhanced by rival interest from fellow top-flight club Everton, while the player himself had perhaps inadvertently raised his asking price after impressing for his country at Euro 2016, notably starring in the showpiece defeat to Portugal.

Read the latest Newcastle transfer rumours and news! (Copy)

Such a performance seemingly had those at St James’ Park tearing their hair out having rarely seen such a strong display during his time at the club, with legendary figure Alan Shearer suggesting that it must have been his “twin brother” featuring for Les Bleus due to the difference in performance levels.

Having managed to secure a sizeable offer for a player who had flattered to deceive during his time with the club, the Magpies then ultimately saw the 71-cap man go on to initially struggle during his time in north London, further justifying their decision to cash in.

The £4.05m-rated man ultimately overcame that slow start to become a “superb” asset for the Lilywhites – in the words of pundit Kevin Phillips – although still remained a figure of frustration due to his at times clumsy manner and lack of a cutting-edge, scoring just five goals during his five-year stay in the capital.

A subsequent move to Watford last summer failed to bear fruit with the 33-year-old now back in his homeland at Nantes, having done little to truly leave Newcastle regretting their decision to sell for a fee that was around 15 times bigger than their initial investment.