Henri Saivet is something of a conundrum as a footballer at Newcastle United. A late relic of the Magpies’ French Revolution, whereby scout Graham Carr utilised his extensive contacts in the European nation to bring a host of French talent over the Channel, with some working out brilliantly and many falling by the wayside.
Once such star was Saivet, who was brought in towards the end of Carr’s tenure at the head of Newcastle’s recruitment and scouting network, and despite doubts from the then management of Steve McClaren, signed from Bordeaux for a hefty reported fee of £5m.
Fast forward to present day, and Saivet still remains a Newcastle United player, even if few fans likely realise it. The Senegal international has managed just five league appearances in his spell on Tyneside, despite being there since 2016, and been out on loan for much of his Magpies career.
Spells with Saint-Etienne, and then in Turkey with first Sivasspor and then Bursaspor have done little to revive a career in black and white, but with a lengthy, expensive contract still remaining he has been forced to bide out his time at the Premier League side. Without a squad number, and so ineligible to feature until at least January, Steve Bruce saved him the indignation of previous manager Rafa Benitez and has not banished Saivet to train with the academy following his failure to secure a loan away from the club.
However, there is little interest to play him, having overlooked him for cup football already this season.
In Saivet’s defence, despite being out of the team and destined to be without football for another half a season, the Senegalese midfielder is not apparently a disruptive influence on the squad, instead engaging well with the other players and being a quiet but positive figure in training. He at least seems to have responded to his footballing exile with a respectable professionalism.
On the pitch, in the few appearances he has made, Saivet did little to shine. His most memorable game came against West Ham United, forced into the starting line-up through injuries. Within minutes, he had gifted the opposition a goal through a shocking mistake, and although he scored a wonderful free kick shortly after, he exerted little influence on the match.
At international level, Saivet still manages to feature but his club spell at Newcastle is now just waiting out the clock. Currently, he has been a £1m-a-match mistake.