Newcastle United look set to add another Frenchman to their ranks, with Emmanuel Rivière arriving at the clubs Darsley Park training ground on Wednesday. The deal with Monaco for the former France under-21 international, is said to be worth around €6.3 million, and is expected to be confirmed soon.
The 24 year old will add some much-needed firepower to the Magpies’ strike-force, which has seen loanee Loïc Rémy return to QPR, and long-serving local boy Shola Ameobi released at the end of his contract. The coaching and scouting staff at St James Park have been focusing on refreshing the attacking options at a club which only managed 11 Premier League goals in the second half of the season.
Rivière can be used as a centre-forward, attacking midfielder, or cutting in from a wide right position. He notched 5 goals last term from a central position, and 3 from attacking midfield, however he only provided 2 assists in 28 games. He is widely seen as a promising talent who has never quite reached his potential, and Toon boss Alan Pardew will hope he is the man to finally unlock this.
Much will depend on how Rivière is deployed by Pardew. The player enjoyed his best form while playing in a counter-attacking system. His pace and good technique allow him to break clear of opposing defences and he has strength to hold off challenges.
At 6 feet tall and muscularly built, Rivière is deceiving to the eye – just when you expect him to play as a target man, he will apply pressure to the defence, force a mistake and surge forward with impressive speed. This can be used to great effect in the right system, and is something Newcastle tried at times with Loïc Rémy last term.
Rivière is predominately right-footed, however he has proven to be adept with his left foot and head in recent times – statistics from last season showing that 20% of goals came from each. He has a powerful leap, and is very good at out-jumping and winning the ball from lofted set-plays, something Newcastle have been crying out for in recent seasons.
However, the criticism that is most often aimed at the player is that he is wasteful with his chances. He managed 10 goals last season from 51 shots, but Monaco fans can list a glut of chances which they’d have preferred to have fallen to Radamel Falcao instead.
He managed 8 goals in two consecutive seasons from 2009 to 2011, but only 5 and 4 in the following years. Last season was by far his best return, managing those 10 goals in just 28 appearances (only 64.29% of which saw him starting the game).
Of course the increased productivity could be attributed to the cavalcade of talent which supported him from Les Rouges et Blancs’ midfield. Boasting the likes of Joao Moutinho, Lucas Ocampos, and World Cup star James Rodriguez, the Monaco team dominated the majority of games and chances were not hard to come by.
Rivière began his professional career at Saint-Étienne, delighting his father who was an admirer of the historically famous club. He hit his best spell of form in his second season with the club, scoring five goals in a seven match run which saw the club lose only once, and lift themselves out of the relegation zone.
Rivière was quickly signed up for a further 3 years, but by the next summer he was on his way to Toulouse in a €6 million transfer. Scoring only 9 goals in 44 appearances at le Téfécé, the player struggled to hold down a first team place, and attracted interest from Ligue 2 Monaco. He made the move to the principality in January 2013 and scored 4 times in 14 appearances to help secure the clubs promotion to the top flight.
Rivière may have been the only man in Monaco to be disappointed that summer, as Monaco’s Russian billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev splashed the cash in a serious way. The total summer shopping spree came to around €140 million in the end, and saw Colombia and Atletico Madrid sensation Radamel Falcao join the club – and effectively usurp Rivière’s place in the team.
However, the player did not let this affect him, and when used as a 72nd minute substitute in the first game of the season, he sprung into action and scored Monaco’s first top flight goal in 2 years. He followed this up with a hat-trick in the very next game, however inconsistent form followed, and by January the player found himself playing second fiddle to Dimitar Berbatov – himself brought in to replace the now injured Falcao.
All of which has led Rivière to Tyneside – a fresh start and perhaps a final chance to show what he can do with an undoubtedly huge talent. Whether Pardew believes he has found his new centre-forward, or that Rivière will take up a wide position in the attack, is unclear. The club is bereft of any real front man, with only the demoralised PapissCissé remaining at the club.
It has been suggested that Rivière will line-up as a wide-right forward, with Siem de Jong playing a traditional number 10 role and Remy Cabella creating chances from midfield. This option may all hinge on whether Newcastle have faith in Cissé, or if better options are available to play the wide role. Cabella himself has filled this position in the past, so Rivière will be well prepared to lead the line himself, and will provide a variety of options going forward.
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