I think it’s fairly common knowledge now that we look to have secured the services of Malian striker Modibo Maiga for January. But what can we expect from him?
The Sochaux striker started his career at Stade Malien which is a Malian football club where he only played a couple of times before moving onto Raja CA Casablanca, a team from Morocco. Casablanca is well known for it’s team that likes to play good football. Again he didn’t play many games, 22 games and scoring 2 goals but it was from this period he got his big break, at Ligue 1 outfit Le Mans. He spent three years there playing 88 games and scoring 15 goals.
When Le Mans got relegated in 2010 Modibo was labelled as hot property due to his young age and goal record. It was Sochaux who subsequently signed him on a four-year deal. His first season at Sochaux was a overriding success with Maiga and strike partner Ideye Brown scoring 15 goals each, scoring over half of Sochaux’s goals that season meaning they qualified for the Europa League.
After being linked with a move away, Modibo went on strike with Newcastle showing interest in late August. As the deadline got closer Sochaux stood firm with them apparently rebuffing bids of around £7 million. After missing games against Stade Malherbe de Caen and AS Nancy he returned against Metallist Kharkiv and FC Lorient, he was then removed from the first team along with Kevin Anin, who also went on strike to force a move away, for disappearing. His first three games after returning brought four goals which the Sochaux fans appreciated but still booed Maiga for his antics in the summer.
What must be said about his goal record is up until he joined Sochaux he was known for being a winger who had an eye for goal, it wasn’t until Francis Gillot who was Sochaux manager at the time decided to put Maiga upfront and what a decision it turned out to be. Since moving up front Maiga’s goal ratio is almost one in two which is a good record by anyone’s standard, especially as playing upfront wasn’t his natural position.
Regarding Maiga’s style, he is a tall wiry striker who we’ve already established can play on the wing. He has a decent amount of pace and a powerful left foot. If and when he does sign, even when he starts upfront I can see him drifting out to the right so he can cut inside and have a shot or link up play, something that Hulk does for Porto and Brazil. He is known to be very good at heading and standing at 6ft 2in he should be winning his fair share as well.
His attitude may be called into question but Hatem Ben Arfa did a similar thing when he joined us and most fans were fine with that but as I always say, if Carr sees Maiga as the striker we should get then we have to got go with his judgement which has been impeccable so far.
I’m sure it isn’t just on the field contribution that Graham Carr and Alan Pardew look at when signing a player, they will also look at players attitude and how they act off the field. It may be that Maiga just really wants to join Newcastle because he wants to play in the Premier League and the fact it will be a lot easier for him to settle with so many French speaking players and players from Ligue 1 who he will know.
People will also point to him having to leave every other year for the African Cup of Nations but if we think he is good enough then a few weeks every other year shouldn’t stand in the way of signing a player who has only just turned 24. It should also be said that Mali don’t always qualify for the ACoN and if they do, they tend to get knocked out in the earlier stages of the competition.
Once that tournament is out of the way and Maiga gets settled I can see him starting upfront with Demba Ba. Now we all know that Ba is not just a big target man who doesn’t move, he can play a bit as well, he likes to drop deep and collect possession, Maiga is also by no means a statue either with him spending a lot of his career on the wing he also likes to get involved with the play. But we always have the option of going long if we needed to with the height and strength these two possess.
Looking longer term, with Demba Ba, Modibo Maiga, Leon Best and Shola Ameobi we have four quality strikers in their own right and with Hatem Ben Arfa flitting around that’s five players who can threaten the goal and produce a lot of goals for the team for the present and the future.
What are your thoughts?