EIGHT is the magic number for Newcastle United’s new sensation Moussa Sissoko, it seems.
Alan Pardew has revealed he sees Sissoko as a potential number eight in the mould of Steven Gerrard – and eight was the number of English clubs tracking the Toulouse midfielder this month.
To United’s great relief, they had done enough homework to persuade Sissoko to come to them regardless – and after seeing a glimpse of what he is capable of on Tuesday they will be doubly delighted at the coup.
It was interesting, too, to see the way Sissoko was deployed, just off the shoulder of a re-energised Papiss Cissé.
It is one of several roles Pardew believes he can play.
He said: “My vision of him in the team is to play a role where he is using his energy. He has massive energy and power.
“I don’t want to compare him to another player but he can play, I would say, all three roles in that midfield area.
“He can play behind the front, he can play number eight in a sort of Stevie Gerrard type role and he can sit.
“He learned a lot on Tuesday. He is not going to have it all his own way and in the second half he found it a bit more difficult.”
Sissoko looks certain to retain his place in the team for the visit of Chelsea, along with Yoan Gouffran, who was equally smart against Aston Villa.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa might make it a trio of home debuts – but Pardew has warned expectations should not be raised too much.
Will there be any more new arrivals today, Pardew was asked.
His answer revealed a desire to put the lid on United’s recruitment drive: “No, I think we’ll all have a rest . . . ”