Is Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis Good Business for Newcastle United and Alan Pardew?
One of the longest-stretching transfer sagas in France this summer is the increasingly painful exit of Bafetimbi Gomis from Lyon.
The French international has been on the transfer list at the Stade Gerland since the end of last season, but ESPN FC have reported Gomis is in no hurry to leave.
Given Lyon’s precarious financial state, president Jean-Michel Aulas, as has become his custom, is compelled to force out his club’s highest earners, even if they still have something to offer on the pitch.
Currently, Les Gones have Gomis and Lisandro Lopez on their wage bill; two expensively paid players who the club cannot afford to keep together.
Given the emergence of Clement Grenier last season, the importance of being able to hold onto captain and French international Maxime Gonalons, promising young defender Samuel Umtiti and perennial hopeful Alexandre Lacazette was amplified.
As a result, Gomis and Lopez, as well as Yoann Gourcuff and Michel Bastos, were viewed as potential sacrifices.
However, the French striker was the one the club have chosen to inform that he is surplus to requirements.
Initially, Lopez looked the most likely to leave and even had a teary farewell in the final match of the season against Rennes.
However, when initial interest for Gomis firmed up, it seems that Aulas saw the potential to recoup a larger sum of money and decided to force Gomis out of the club instead of the Argentine.
That is how Newcastle find themselves involved in this tangled mess of a transfer in the first place, with ESPN FC reporting their interest has cooled after having a bid rejected.
So is Gomis worth the trouble and, more importantly, the money?
It is a difficult question to answer because there are so many things that make the 27-year-old a talented striker and a potential star for club and country.
He is strong, athletic, physically imposing, fast considering his build and capable of scoring some outrageous goals, arguably perfect for the Premier League.
What lets him down though is his consistency, or a lack of it.
Since arriving at Lyon from bitter rivals Saint-Etienne in 2009, Gomis has never failed to score less than 10 league goals in a season.
However, in two of the four full campaigns he has spent with OL, he has only just crept into double figures twice.
Those two seasons were his first on the other side of the Rhone valley though, and his most recent terms ended with 14 goals and finally 16 last year.
A gradual improvement then, but hardly enough to make the comparisons to Chelsea legend Didier Drogba stand up.
However, the interest was not completely unmerited because, at that point, he had scored 11 league goals by the halfway point of the Ligue 1 season, including a hat-trick in a 4-1 win at Marseille in November.
That represents his best career return to date at that point in a campaign, demonstrating a player who had hit top form.
Unfortunately, taking me back to my point about his main weakness as a striker, his inconsistency meant that he only bagged five more league goals in the next five months.
Gomis’ game is arguably suited to the Premier League’s style, and playing in that environment itself could cure some of the Frenchman’s profligacy.
A largely French-speaking dressing room would help, with a number of familiar faces from Ligue 1 and the French national team present already at St James’ Park.
Since Demba Ba left for Chelsea earlier this year, Alan Pardew’s side have arguably been lacking an adequate foil for Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse, despite possessing a number of talented attacking players.
In theory, Gomis should be the ideal partner for Lopez at OL currently, but coach Remi Garde has been unable to get the two to function well together consistently, contributing in part to Lyon’s steady fall down the Ligue 1 hierarchy.
At approximately €10 million, Gomis could prove to be a bargain for the Magpies, but he also could prove to be a waste of money.
He is that inconsistent that it is hard to tell for sure until he actually plays in the Premier League.
Assuming that it is the Gomis that set Ligue 1 alight in the early parts of last season and has threatened to do so since arriving four years ago, it is good business.
The Frenchman can be relied upon to hit the back of the net and at least reach double figures, perhaps not as prolifically as Ba though.
Despite the earlier rejected bid, it seems likely that Newcastle will eventually complete the signing of the 27-year-old.
However, the "new Drogba" comparisons should be quickly played down, besides, he is hardly "new" at that age.
It is also somewhat ironic that the player that Chelsea were linked with before they moved for Newcastle’s Ba is now the man the Magpies are turning to in order to replace the Senegalese international.
The fact that Lyon are letting Gomis go tells you that he is not vital to the team, but it is more surprising though that they would do so before selling Lopez, who is three years older at 30.
It could be a decision that comes back to haunt Lyon, and one that pays off for the Toon Army, but Gomis will have to be more consistent that he was at Stade Gerland in order to repay whatever Alan Pardew and Co. potentially end up spending on him.
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