Moussa Sissoko is on the verge of the most important year of his life as performing well with Newcastle could lead to a place in Fance's 2014 World Cup squad
For a club whose recent and not-so-recent history is dominated by a lack of real trophy success, Newcastle United may well be the beneficiary of football’s biggest prize.
The World Cup in Brazil, the game’s true home, is the place to be next summer for any player.
It’s not the tournament is ever one you want to miss – well maybe when it gets to Qatar – but you sense there is something special about the 20th holding of Fifa’s premier competition.
Newcastle have an exorbitant number of players who have more than just one eye on Brazil 2014.
A good season in terms of their own and the team’s performance gets them on the plane.
However, fail again and the passport will remain in a drawer.
Manager Alan Pardew said: “It’s a big season for a lot of our players, with the World Cup next summer in Brazil.
“Make no mistake, that is a massive incentive for a lot of the guys at this football club.
“They want to be on that plane when the time comes.”
This is good news for Newcastle United as the club is blessed with a squad jam-packed with internationals whose countries have a chance of being among the 32 competing for the iconic golden trophy.
As well as the French and African players, there are Tim Krul (Holland), Fabicio Coloccini (Argentina), Davide Santon (Italy) and even Shola Ameobi who has been given clearance to play for Nigeria.
One of those with clear dreams of representing France is Moussa Sissoko who could be on the verge of the most important 12 months of his life. His thinking is quite clear. Do well for Newcastle and he will be in the French World Cup squad – if they make it to Brazil.
Sissoko said: “I want to play for my club, the manager and also my national team.
“I was to go to the World Cup with France. It’s a big season for me and for a few of the other guys in the team.”
If Sissoko has a good season, then it stands to reason that Newcastle will benefit.
Pardew has let it be know he sees the 23-year-old midfielder as the key man for the team.
The former Toulouse man has great ability, combined with pace, power and football intellect.
No wonder his manager has put so much faith in a player determined to be a success for his club. Sissoko added: “I enjoy having responsibility on me.
“The manager spoke to me in January and told me he wanted me to come to Newcastle because he liked me.
“I do think next season will be better. The last one is hard for the team.
“We got a lot of injures to key players and that was hard on the squad. So we are working hard to make sure we get off to a good start, which is going to be important.
“I love living in the city. Newcastle are a big club. The stadium is very nice and always full.
“We have a good team as well. The supporters are incredibly passionate. I love that.
“That is a big difference from France and I like the passion you have here in England.
“As a footballer, this is what I like. I love that at every ground, the people sing and make noise.
“In France that only really happens in Marseille and Paris. It doesn’t matter where we go in England, the atmosphere is always good.”
Sissoko was a second-half substitute in Saturday’s friendly game against Rio Ave in Portugal, a game Newcastle lost 3-1.
The players have been worked hard over here, which offers an explanation as to why they found themselves three goals down after 26 minutes, Shola Ameobi scoring late on before he injured his wrist.
Sissoko said: “Saturday’s game was hard because the training sessions here have been hard.
“I thought the team was a little tired, but it was good for our preparation and conditioning for when the season starts.
“You never want to lose any game. We are not happy to lose, but sometimes you lose and this isn’t a big problem, the only thing which counts is the fact we are in good shape for the Premier League.
“Maybe I will start the game on Tuesday (against Pacos de Ferreira) and maybe I will play better.
“ I am enjoying pre-season. Portugal is nice. It is sunny and we have worked well.
“It’s different from France. We are working two sessions a day here and with Toulouse it was three sessions every day, so we did a bit more.
“Is it easy here? No, definitely not. It’s hard, but this is what you need to do to get into condition so you can play well.”
Newcastle got a bit of a chasing in the first-half at the Estadio do Rio Ave.
They were 2-0 down before United had woken up with Moroccan international striker Hassan beating young Jak Alnwick twice within three minutes.
Then Braga added a third ten minutes before the break thanks largely to appalling defending. He was allowed a shot off when lying on the floor.
The one positive was Yohan Cabaye who managed an impressive 45 minutes. He hit the post with a superb shot and looked the part.
Pardew said: “I thought Yohan was the pick of the players in the first-half. His fitness levels are not there yet, but he still looked like he was in good shape.”