He scored two goals, narrowly missing out on a hat-trick in a 3-1 victory for the second string Mags.
Newcastle United’s club reporter, Dan King, wrote of the mystery Frenchman:
“Two well-taken goals from a French trialist helped Newcastle Reserves start their pre-season campaign with a win against an experienced Hamilton outfit at the Magpies’ Benton training ground.
“The teenage winger, who has played for his country at youth level, scored twice in the first-half and Marcus Maddison added a third from the penalty spot before Alister Crawford netted a late consolation for the Scottish First Division side, who beat Sunderland’s second-string 3-1 earlier this week and included a host of senior players.
“United were ahead after six minutes when Yven Moyo’s great run and clever through-ball allowed the trialist to showcase his pace and finishing ability as he slotted home from the left-hand angle of the box.
“And the same player – who has been training with Newcastle in recent days – scored from an almost identical position on 24 minutes as he burst down the flank and found the bottom far corner with a drilled shot.
“After Maddison saw a shot well saved after good work from Bradden Inman, the trialist was only denied a hat-trick on 36 minutes when, after another exhibition of his lightning pace, his effort was palmed away…”
That player was 19 year old Anthony Koura, who currently plays for French Ligue 2 side, Le Mans FC. So, I thought I would take a closer look.
Koura is, as mentioned in the above report, a winger who can play on both flanks, and is also a striker too. Born in Le Mans, he’s around 5’11″ tall and seemingly displays an excellent turn of pace, which appropriate bearing in mind he comes from the French home of relentless speed! He started playing with the local Cheminots du Mans (Railway Club) way back in 2000, when he must have been only around seven, eventually moving to Le Mans in 2004 as an eleven year old.
He only really broke through into the French side’s first team last season, making a total of only nine appearences, and all but two of those as a late substitute. However, it has been on the international scene where the youngster has really been making his impact so far, playing in all the youth levels he has been eligible for, ie in the French Under 16, Under 17, Under 18 and Under 19 International sides. He has obviously impressed the powers that be in French football, having made a total of 44 youth international appearences so far, scoring 19 goals.
Should Newcastle United take him on, and he certainly left an excellent impression in his reserves game with ressie’s coach, Willie Donachie, declaring that he “would take him if the price was right.” Whilst the youngster still has a couple of years left on his Le Mans contract, he should still be as cheap as chips in football terms, his current transfermarkt valuation is only £175,000. Obviously, I’m no great expert on the player, but I’ll certainly keep an eye out for him in the future even if he doesn’t end up being signed up on Tyneside.
Finally, it should also be remebered that trialists from French Ligue 2 clubs are not necessarily to be sniffed at in amongst all the more “glamourous” signings of more senior players. In 2008 club signed another young French player from a Ligue 2 club (FC Metz) after a trial once for £500,000 and ended up selling him to Tottenham for no less than £8 million the season after. Of course, his name was Sebastien Bassong.
Unfortunately, the Internet isn’t exactly chocka with videos of the young starlet yet, but here’s one I managed to trawl up of a Le Mans game against Le Havre in Ligue 2. It features a rare start for Koura, playing on the left flank of a front three.
Allez le Garçon!