Across the final few months of 2019, a few reports emerged from France claiming Newcastle scouts had been ‘regularly’ tracking Le Mans winger Stephane Diarra.
Over six months later and it was confirmed on Monday that the 21-year-old has signed with Ligue 1 side FC Lorient, however he’s since confirmed that he was contacted by Newcastle United over a summer move to St James’ Park.
Here’s what the Ivorian has had to say after penning a five-year-deal with the French side instead:
“Many clubs have contacted me, such as the English clubs in Newcastle and Leicester, but also French teams with Lille, Monaco or Marseille.
“The speeches of Christophe Le Roux, sports director, and coach Christophe Pelissier were decisive in my decision-making.
“I knew it was a quality team that played football and I needed a playful and efficient team. It was important for me to stay in France.
“Since childhood, I dream of discovering Ligue 1. And then, it was important for me not to skip the stages. I’m here to learn.
“I will stay in Ligue 1, progress and we will see later.”
Based on these comments, it seems clear he was keen to stay in France (for now) and sign for a club who’ll play him each week and further his development, with him appearing to reject some big Ligue 1 sides in favour of a move to Lorient.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why he opted against a move to Tyneside at this stage of his career, with the likes of Saint-Maximin and Almiron meaning his game time would’ve surely been limited.
Hopefully this isn’t another Nicholas Pepe situation – a player we missed out on for £8m at Angers before his £72m move to Arsenal a few years on – however it might just be one to watch in the future if his final comment is anything to go off.