Luke Edwards of The Telegraph is reporting that Ligue 1 side Sochaux have agreed to sell striker Modibo Maiga to Newcastle once the January transfer window opens. Edwards' story has the rate at £7 million, while other sources claim £8 million. The deal will reportedly be for 4 and a half years.
Maiga was a very public target for Newcastle while the summer transfer window was open, refusing to play in order to force a move, but Sochaux would not sell, much to the chagrin of both Alan Pardew and the Toon Army. A complaint to FIFA by Les Lionceaux also followed, but Newcastle are apparently learning that making illegal approaches to players can pay off in the long run (see also: Rob Elliot and Charlton Athletic).
Modibo Maiga is a 24 year-old Mali international who is obviously very volatile. (By the way, Mali did qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, and it is speculated that Maiga will take part.) Since the rather infamous and ineffective boycott, Maiga was left out of Sochaux's Europa tie with Metalist Kharkiv for missing practice. He has since returned to the squad, scoring 4 goals in 6 games. That's great (of course), but check out what he said after scoring a brace in Sochaux's 3-0 victory over Toulouse:
It's a good answer to people who do not know football. This will make them shut their big mouths.
[via Inside Futbol]
Look, it's okay to feel that way. He's had his share of detractors, and it's natural to want to shove success in their faces. It's also more than okay to want to play in the Premier League. This kid just doesn't go about expressing himself in a way that's going to endear him to others. Learn to shake off those haters, man.
His personality, abrasive as it may be, is not a fatal flaw. I've long maintained that talent trumps character. I have lots of character (or so my mother says), but that doesn't mean that I can score goals for Newcastle. Character is a temporary trait, one that can be changed or coached. I'm not saying that Maiga can't make himself comfortable on Tyneside and thrive as a result. What I am saying is that this doesn't seem like a move that Alan Pardew, who doesn't tolerate dissent well, makes. We don't have to imagine how Pardew would deal with a personality like Maiga's; we've seen it in action. Good players will be shipped out if they don't shape up, sometimes for a bargain price.
I'm happy that Newcastle will be getting a quality striker in January, assuming this is true and nobody backs out between now and then. I am a little worried about whether or not this will be a sound investment, but I've also learned to trust Graham Carr, and I'll be rooting for Maiga to keep up his on-the-pitch prowess while he matures off of it.