The third edition of ‘Where are they now?’ returns starring ex Newcastle United Frenchman, Yoan Gouffran.
Signing for Newcastle United
Gouffran made a name for himself in the French second division, Ligue 2. During his time at Caen, the Frenchman totalled 115 appearances and scored 33 goals, playing across the forward line. In 2008, what turned out to be his final year for the club after a 5 year spell, Gouffran guided the club to promotion, picking up the accolade of Ligue 2 Player of the Year along the way.
Following promotion, Gouffran was heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, rumours circulated that he had signed a pre-contract agreement with the club, however this was not the case, and Gouffran opted to extend his stay in France, by signing for Championship challenging Bordeaux.
Life for the Frenchman at Bordeaux did not start of brilliantly, with no goals within the first 26 appearances, Gouffran managed to find his feet when needed the most. He scored a vital goal in a 2-1 win against Rennes to put Bordeaux within touching distance of the Championship, before netting against his old team Caen to clinch Ligue 1, subsequently relegating his previous club in the process.
Gouffran carried on his impressive form for Bordeaux, however there was no agreement of a contract extension agreed, and after 3 and a half years at the club, with just 6 months remaining on his contract, Newcastle United offered £500,000 for his services.
Alan Pardew got his man in the 2012/13 winter transfer, as Gouffran joined as part of the ‘French Revolution’ on Tyneside. Within this month fellow countrymen Moussa Sissoko and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa also joined the club.
Yoan made his debut soon after, playing in a 2-1 win away at Aston Villa, before netting his first goal in black and white against Tottenham Hotspur. He played an important role in keeping Newcastle United in the Premier League as his hard working mentality improved the team.
In the following season Gouffran found an incredibly rich vein of form. During November/ December the Frenchman could not stop scoring at St James Park netting against Chelsea, Norwich, West Brom, Southampton, and Stoke, Gouffran became the first Newcastle player to score in 5 consecutive matches since Alan Shearer in 1997.
Following a few seasons of upheaval for the Toon Army, we were relegated to the Championship. It was expected that Benitez would encourage the Frenchman towards the exit door, however the decision not to was one which hugely benefited the club. Gouffran performed brilliantly for the Magpies in a campaign which ended with us lifting the trophy after a huge slip-up in results by fellow promotion-winners Brighton. The vicious volley against Derby was a strike that lives high in the memory of our season in the second division.
At the end of the campaign, Gouffran had two options; player a much lesser role in the North East, or move away. He opted to move away in search of more playing time.
Where have they been
Gouffran followed his spell in the North East of England with a move across Europe, to Turkey. He signed for Goztepe, a heavily supported club in the Turkish top flight. He remained here, accumulating 46 appearances, but only finding the net twice. In the most recent, 2020 winter transfer window Gouffran made another move, this time joining FC Ararat-Armenia.
This club had only been founded in 2017, and within its first year only consisted of players graduating from the youth setup. In the following year, 2018 a Russian-American businessman purchased the club and began to invest in new players. This resulted in the club earning promotion to the Armenian Premier League, and again in the following year progressing further, lifting the 2019 Championship title. This means the club qualified for Champions League football, meaning Yoan Gouffran will be playing on the big stage when football returns.
Was the grass greener
No – The situation Gouffran found himself in, after Newcastle’s Championship winning campaign was a difficult one. He could either stay with the squad, knowing he would be a bit-part player in the following campaign, or depart the North East to a lower quality league. In fairness to the Frenchman, it seemed the factor of playing football settled his decision to move away. This worked out well for him, however he was never likely to lift his career to new heights following his departure, especially at the age of 30.
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