You spoke and we listened. Following our recent Twitter Poll, Remy Cabella features in the newest edition of ‘Where are they now?’. The Frenchman was bought in to replace the departing playmaker Yohan Cabaye, but things never worked out.
Singing for Newcastle United
Remy Cabella was another one of the countless Frenchmen that appeared on Tyneside in recent years. He was born on French island, Corsica, with an Italian father and French mother.
He played with his local team until the age of 14, when he joined the youth academy of Montpellier. Impressing while part of the youth set up and aided by the teams triumph in the Coupe Garmbardella, Cabella was offered a professional contract with the senior team.
Unfortunately for the the Frenchman, just 2 months after signing on the dotted line, he suffered a cruciate ligament injury and was ruled out for the entire season.
Once recovering from this, Cabella was sent out to fellow Ligue 1 team Arles-Avignon, scoring 3 goals in 17 appearances.
Montpellier clearly believed that Cabella had sufficiently recovered from the injury and offered the Frenchman a 2 year contract extension retaining him at the club until 2016. This turned out to be a pivotal decision in Montpellier’s first ever title winning campaign, in which Cabella formed a deadly partnership with hitman Olivier Giroud.
Cabella spent a further 2 seasons in France, racking up 27 goals in 94 appearances before declaring he wanted to make the transition into the Premier League, perhaps with the ambition of becoming a regular in the French national team.
Trust me when I say I was struggling for inspiration to complete this specific section. The Frenchman arrived on Tyneside with huge expectation. The club publicly flirted with the speedy playmaker for an extended period, billing him as the perfect replacement for Yohan Cabaye. The departing Cabaye had been one of our best midfielders in the previous seasons, consistently linking our defence and midfield while always being tidy on the ball and scoring some important goals.
Cabella on the other hand failed to offer any of these qualities during his time with Newcastle United. He scored just a single goal during his 31 appearances, this coming away at Steve Bruce managed Hull, in a 3-0 Newcastle win.
He was often too light in possession, being pushed off the ball and marked completely out of games. When he did lift up his head and drive forward, his dribbles were often intercepted, passes astray, and all round game reflecting a player low on confidence.
Due to his constant struggles in the North East, Cabella was included in part of a deal which saw countryman Florian Thauvin swap Marseille for Newcastle. This was initially a loan deal, but following the completion of the loan spell, Remy Cabella continued pre-season in France, before forcing a permanent transfer in time for the following campaign.
Where have they been?
The move to Marseille went slightly better for the Frenchman, well it couldn’t have been any worse than his time in Newcastle. He did end the season with 3 goals in 32 games, contributing more throughout games and in turn looked a slightly regenerated and more confident player.
It seems that the physicality of the Premier League was just not suited to the playing style of the agile attacker. Add to that the managers in charge during his time in Newcastle and the level of performances perhaps start to become understandable. The French League allowed the Frenchman more time on the ball, while defenders would not bully him out of games.
His next move was the one which really clicked. Moving to Saint Etienne, again initially on loan, Cabella scored in the first minute of his debut. He had settled immediately, and now his true potential came to the forefront.
He scored 7 goals in 26 appearances for ‘The Greens’ during his initial loan stint, before both player and club wasted no time in making the deal permanent.
Cabella was back playing football with a smile on his face. The tricks that were previously losing possession were now beating players, in situations where the player was being closed down, it now seemed like the Frenchman always had time on his side. He starred throughout the 2018/19 season, grabbing a goal and 2 assists against Monaco while accumulating a further 7 goals across the campaign. He earned the clubs Player of the Year award for his efforts.
Following his best personal season his head was turned with a huge money offer from Russia. It was surprising to see that Cabella would depart Saint Etienne, especially after waiting so long to find a club where he could settle.
At the time of the transfer, Cabella was 29, almost 30. He was also rumoured to be singing a £3 million per year deal with another £1.5 million available through bonuses. When analysing this move it can be said it was not the best decision from a footballing perspective, but as an aging player, it was his last chance to earn a big money move before retiring in the near future.
He currently still plays for the Russian club and will be hoping to push them on to the next level. The club currently sit 3rd in the league, equal on points with Lokomotiv Moscow, but trailing to Zenit by 9 points.
If Cabella can add the Russian league title to his CV before retiring, this would to some extent justify his move.
Was the grass greener?
Yes – Lets be honest, Cabella’s time at Newcastle was truly awful. He took a gamble, moving out of his comfort zone of the French league and never truly adjusted to Premier League football. It can be argued that he was never given a platform to perform, with the team in a bad place under the failing management of Alan Pardew and John Carver. The Frenchman was never utilized to his full potential and was expected to lift up the rest of the squad in his first season in England.
His time back in France allowed him to enjoy football again. He regained confidence and turned into the player we thought we would be seeing on Tyneside. Winning Player of the Year solidified this viewpoint. It does seem disappointing that Cabella traded this in for a big pay-day, but this could possibly be seen as an offer too good to refuse. If he can win silverware in Russia, this could also be see as another good decision from the Frenchman.
Overall it was good to see the Frenchman excelling after leaving Newcastle, but also leaves me with a though of what could have been if he joined the Magpies in a different point of time, and was managed properly.