We know the name Cheick Diabaté from his exploits with Bordeaux in last year's Europa League — it was his brace in the final group match ("the kids aren't alright tour") that doomed Newcastle to second in the group that day (see starting at :29 in below video) — which surely ticks the first box for our illustrious Director of Football. "Have I heard of him?" "He scored a brace against us last year? Bang on, lad must be brilliant". If only Douglas had managed to play us and score...
At any rate - here is the fact file about one Cheick Diabaté:
Name: Cheick Tidiane Diabaté
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 194 lbs
What obviously sticks out right away is that Diabaté is the body type that Alan Pardew surely hungers for. Like deep starving pangs of hunger. The Mali international is tall enough to stand up to long balls and crosses in a purely goal scoring type of way... which is good. He falls just short of the striker type that I hunger for (like deep starving pangs of hunger) who can use height and relative mass to win balls to his strike partner in addition to bringing the goal scoring touch. I'm not saying that Diabaté lacks those skills entirely, however 6 assists spread over 4 years for Bordeaux is ... not encouraging. By viewing the "Cheick Diabaté Skills" video you can tell two things - a) some of his assists may be of the "not closely controlled ball pounced on by opportune teammate" variety and b) he can get up and head balls on to his striking partner... it's just the assist numbers don't indicate that he does it very often.
We can also tell from this video that Diabaté can finish with both feet with at least above average skill - although his left is noticeably weaker than his right. What we can infer is that the Mali frontman is not the type of player to win the ball with his back to goal and distribute... but again, I think that's a difference between the striker Alan Pardew hungers for and the striker I hunger for. He does have very good skill with the ball at his feet (obligatory statement klaxon: "for a big guy).
Diabaté is a pure center forward. He's not going to be a guy like Loïc Rémy that you can shift out to the wing, nor would you want to. As you can see from the videos above, he can find a pass although assist numbers suggest that he doesn't very often. He can get on to a through ball, although if he were to come to Newcastle it would be pretty clear that through balls would still be largely the responsibility of M. Rémy. Perhaps most importantly (if he is purchased), he is a great target for the type of early crosses (read: 30 yards out give or take) that Davide Santon and Mathieu Debuchy both are quite good at playing.
Cheick Diabaté would be a perfect purchase for the Alan Pardew "if we can't play it on the ground, hoof it at the big lad" system. Early reports are that he carries a £5m price tag for the January window... which Mike Ashley and Bedo will of course refuse to pay. If they manage to get the big guy in, it could be a tidy bit of business.