Former Arsenal legend Robert Pires has compared ex-Newcastle United flop Florian Thauvin to that of Arjen Robben after yet another impressive display from the Frenchman.
Since the 24-year-old left the Magpies, initially on-loan to current club Marseille in January 2016 – just six months after arriving in the Premier League for around £16m – the midfielder has adapted his game exponentially and has now become one of the most exciting fixtures in Ligue 1.
The France international has done so by netting eight goals and providing nine assists in his 22 outings across all competitions this season, with seven of those coming in the league and aiding his side climb up to third in the country’s top-flight, currently one point behind second-place Monaco with a game in hand.
Thauvin’s performances could not be further removed than from those during his time with Newcastle, where the St James’ Park masses were left frustrated on countless occasions with a player they believed was simply inept.
However, as has been shown, the Magpies talent spotters unearthed what has proven to be one of the hottest talents in the French top-flight, so much so that Arsenal and France legend Pires has compared the winger to world-renowned Robben.
“He’s progressed a lot under Rudi Garcia”, the 44-year-old told La Provence following Marseille’s 3-0 win over FC Metz in midweek where the in-form creator added a goal and an assist to his season’s tally.
“He plays like Robben. He curls his shots, but he also knows how to alternate long play, short play, small passes, and he’s extremely quick with the ball in his feet, which is great to have down the wing.
“That’s why it’s complicated for a defender, because he’s equally capable of going to the sideline and cross with his right, or cutting in. He can play down both sides or through the middle.”
With Thauvin in such good form of late, it begs the question what might have been for Newcastle had they afforded their £16m signing more time to adapt to the Premier League.