In January 2016 Steve McClaren signed Henri Saivet from Bordeaux for a fee of £4.5 million. The Senegal international thought that it was his time to make a name on a bigger stage, in one of the best leagues in the world – the Premier League.
Little did Saivet know at the time that his move to Tyneside would turn sour rather quickly. McClaren was desperate to sign Jonjo Shelvey, the former England manager was not as taken by Saivet’s CV although with Cheick Tiote seemingly ready to depart, a successor for the Ivorian was needed. Newcastle bought both Saivet and Shelvey during the January transfer window, unfortunately for Saivet, Tiote did not depart St James’ Park and he immediately found himself down the pecking order.
Having only appeared for a total of eight times for Newcastle during a period of over three years at the club, Saivet now finds himself without a shirt number but still training with the first team. Saivet at only 28 years-old still has many years ahead of him in football, for his sake he must put his disastrous spell at Newcastle behind him.
Saivet has now been overlooked by three Newcastle managers, McClaren already had reservations about the midfielder before he joined the club, Rafael Benitez believed that Saivet wasn’t suited to the Premier League and as a result was banished to the reserves. Steve Bruce decided against giving Saivet a squad number this season, though the Newcastle manager does not have any issues with Saivet.
Saivet has been loaned out three times by Newcastle, with no resolution on his future the midfielder is forced to wait until at least January to find a new club. The worrying part for Newcastle and Saivet is that his contract does not expire until June 2021. There is a possibility that Saivet could see out the remainder of his contract with the club.
The Senegal international was once dubbed as the “next Thierry Henry” before injury saw Saivet move into a defensive midfield position. The talent is there a player doesn’t catch the eye of big teams such as Tottenham Hotspur for no reason. Perhaps a move to the Premier League came at the wrong time for Saivet and quite possibly to the wrong team.
Newcastle’s relegation to the Championship after Saivet’s first few months with the club saw a lot of changes in the playing staff. Looking back Saivet could have seen Newcastle’s relegation as a perfect opportunity to prove Benitez wrong and establish himself in the first team. Instead he made 21 appearances in Ligue 1 while on loan for St-Etienne.
Due to Saivet’s lack of playing time he was not named in Senegal’s squad for the latest round of internationals. Being out in the wilderness for Newcastle is not good for the club or more importantly Saivet’s career. The midfielder’s career has stagnated since he arrived on Tyneside, while still picking up his £32,000-a-week salary.
Saivet did have a rather eventful game against West Ham United at the London Stadium in December 2017. The midfielder was brought in from the cold due to injuries mounting up for Benitez. Saivet gifted Marko Arnoutovic an early goal before curling in a superb free-kick to draw his side level four minutes later. The game at the London Stadium epitomised Saivet’s Newcastle career in some ways, a disastrous start but with the sense that he has the ability to turn things around. Despite Saivet’s decent showing against West Ham the midfielder did not start for Newcastle again.
The question is can a player coming from a different league, a different country and culture really prove himself over just 232 minutes of Premier League football? Many would answer that with a resounding no.
Saivet is thought to enjoy life on Tyneside despite not being in the frame to feature for Newcastle in the near future. Saivet is eligible to play for Bruce in the FA Cup, the midfielder should see that as an opportunity to show potential suitors what he can do and give Bruce a gentle reminder of his ability.
Saivet’s Newcastle career was effectively over before it even began, perhaps if Tiote’s departure hadn’t have fallen through in January 2016 – maybe things might have worked out differently for Saivet on Tyneside.