Newcastle's best player since Alan Shearer

Posted by Marc Duffy

There was a debate on Twitter this week regarding who was the best player to play for Newcastle United since Alan Shearer retired back in 2006.

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Numerous players were nominated by fans, so I put it to the vote via twtpoll. 209 people voted, which is a great survey pool. Here are the outcomes:

Third place: Demba Ba (4%) 17/06/11 to 04/01/13, free, 57 appearances

"Demba's scored nine since Ramadan..."

Ba would surely have received more votes if he left the club under different circumstances. No one could blame a player for joining Champions League regulars Chelsea, but Ba always gave the impression that he'd have gone anywhere for a few extra bucks.

Inserting a seven million pound release clause in his contract when joining the club and employing an apparent full team of agents indicated that he never saw Newcastle as his long term option, but while he played for the club, he was mostly brilliant.

Ba enjoyed a better than one-in-two goal scoring ratio at Newcastle despite regularly being played outside of his natural position and he was one of the best centre forwards to play for the club in recent years.

He could've become a club great if he was there for longer and it is frustrating to see him sitting on Chelsea's bench -- if he even gets that far.

Ba scored some great goals -- his over the shoulder volley at Reading was absolute class.

His two truly outstanding performances for the Mags came against Manchester United at St James' Park in January 2012 when he terrorised Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones as Newcastle won 3-0. The other was in the 3-1 win against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium when, bizarrely jeered by the Stoke fans throughout after their club pulled the plug on signing him over concerns regarding his well-publicised knee deficiency, he scored a hat trick in an almost flawless Newcastle away performance.

Second place: Fabricio Coloccini (40%), 15/08/08 - present, 10.2 million pounds, 198 appearances

"Oh Coloccini, you are the love of my life...."

The only Newcastle player in recent years to be voted into the Premier League team of the year by his fellow pros for his exceptional 2011-12 season.

Some of those who voted for anyone else over Coloccini justified it by commenting on his role in Newcastle's disastrous 2009 relegation. Coloccini was indeed dreadful that season as this article and the comments attached to it remind us, but in it there is a lesson for us all. Some players need more patience from supporters and managers if they are ever to fulfil their potential. Too many demand instant success.

Once Coloccini adapted to the English game, he became one of the best defenders in the Premier League -- a defender as comfortable Cruyff-turning or crossing as he is tackling and heading.

When Coloccini finally heads off back to Argentina, the performance that will long live in my mind was the supreme game he had against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last season. He was magnificent and the Mackems only managed a late goal after the curly-haired one had gone off through injury despite Newcastle playing most of the game with only ten men.

First place: Yohan Cabaye (53%), 01/07/11 - present, 4.8 million pounds, 87 appearances

"Don't sell Cabaye...."

It is no surprise that Cabaye topped the poll only days after one of his finest performances in a black and white shirt. Cabaye is a class act and that is exactly why he's constantly linked with a move to clubs like PSG. He made an instant impact in his first season on Tyneside helping Newcastle to a fifth placed finish.

He didn't enjoy the happiest of times last season, all too often playing with his head down and being substituted almost weekly, but that was true of all of his teammates, too.

Since his exile at the start of this season, Cabaye has been back to his best -- better than 2011-12. With 16 games still remaining, Cabaye already has seven goals, his best return in his career to date.

Cabaye is an all-round excellent footballer -- he has a nice touch, is a great passer and strikes a lovely football. Most of his goals are absolute pearlers. He also has a cynical side to his game too, which I like. His first Newcastle away game was at Sunderland. I've seen too many players, especially imports, freeze in that environment but Cabaye had a great game and demonstrated more than once that he was prepared to stick up for his team mates.

I really hope we get to watch him for the remainder of this season.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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