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Mathieu Debuchy – An Underrated Gem?

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Mathieu Debuchy
Mathieu Debuchy

Mathieu Debuchy was a consistent performer for Lille for a decade, winning the league title in the 2010/11 season. He became well known in this country after putting in a great performance against England at Euro 2012. He is now a vital part of the French revolution at Newcastle, after joining in January. Newcastle were extremely keen to land him and they had to wait 6 months after their original approach to complete the deal. It’s quite clear that Debuchy’s best friend Yohan Cabaye had a lot to do with his transfer to the North East. His career in England started slowly and many Newcastle fans wondered if the performance against England was an exception, but now he is one of the first names on the team-sheet.

The Frenchman is a very attacking minded player on the right hand side, but he is also a very solid defender, making him perfect for the Premier League. Newcastle currently have the young Italian Davide Santon at left back and he is shaky defensively. Alan Pardew will be hoping that Debuchy can have a positive impact on the game of his fellow full back as the Frenchman is the perfect example of how a modern full back should play. Newcastle haven’t had a right back who is comfortable in both halves of the pitch for a number of years and they will be hoping they can keep Debuchy for the foreseeable future.

Debuchy has been very impressive defensively this season, winning 56% of ground 50-50s and 70% of aerial 50-50s. He is also a very competent tackler, winning 3.1 tackles/game which also includes two successful last man tackles. Moreover, the right back has made 32 interceptions so far this season. He has created 12 chances for team-mates, one of which was an assist. Newcastle only had one of their goals scored by a defender last season, but Debuchy has already netted this season showing his goal threat. He has taken 12 shots with a shooting accuracy of 50%. (All the stats are via squawka and whoscored)

The main area that Debuchy needs to improve on is his discipline. He received a red card last season and he has already served a one match suspension this season after picking up 5 yellow cards. The English game is a lot more physical than the French leagues, but with time this is something Debuchy will adapt to. At the moment, he can be very clumsy inside and around the box which can sometimes put his side in trouble as he concedes dangerous free kicks and the occasional penalty.

However, when he goes forward, he offers a genuine threat to the opposition as he allows Sissoko to move infield as he gives the width. His crossing is also very good. There are not many top quality right backs in the Premier League, with Pablo Zabaleta being the obvious example. Debuchy is certainly right up there with him when it comes to his overall game. Players like Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson and Rafael are all good, but they are all vulnerable defensively. Bacary Sagna has always been looked upon as one of the best right backs in the league, but Debuchy is currently keeping him out of the French National side.

As the season progresses, Debuchy will receive more and more praise as will his club team-mates Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Yoan Gouffran, who have all been unfairly judged on their performances last season while they were settling into a new country. Now they are all settled, it’s easy to see why Newcastle have looked to France for new signings as you can get incredible quality for very little money.