Speedy, effective on the end of set pieces and capable of picking a pass... there's not much to dislike about the prospect of Gouffran in a black-and-white kit.
Yoan Gouffran: The player card stuff
Name: Yoan Gouffran
Date of birth: May 25, 1986
Height: 176 cm (5 feet, 9 inch)
Weight: 76 kg (167 lbs)
Place of birth: Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, France
Yoan Gouffran was born in a suburb of Paris to parents from the island of Guadeloupe, which I have passing knowledge of from Sid Meier's Pirates! I make a small joke as going back quite so far in his life is a little immaterial for our purposes here. Hitting fast forward:
Yoan Gouffran joined the Caen academy at the age of 15 and signed his first professional contract with them upon turning 18. He made 115 appearances for Caen, scoring 33 goals - his high water mark was in 2006-07 when he scored 15 goals in Ligue 2 for the side based in the Nortwest of France. He would be named Ligue 2 player of the year that year, helping Caen earn promotion... it would also be the high water mark for his goal production for his career to this point (15 in 37 appearances.) He would stick with Caen for their first year up in Ligue 1, providing 10 goals in 37 appearances in the 2007-08 season. Quick math tells you that he has scored significantly more than half of his career club goals by this point in his career (21 years old).
During these years, Gouffran also represented France at both the U19 and U21 European Championships, making the acquaintance of a certain Yohan Cabaye in the process. He has not been capped by France at senior level, however.
Girondins de Bordeaux
His form over the 2006-08 seasons for Caen earned him a transfer - and despite having allegedly signed a pre-contract agreement with Arsenal, he chose to stay in France with Girondins de Bordeaux. He struggled initially, failing to score in his first 26 appearances for the eventual champions of the 2008-09 Ligue 1 but ended up coming up huge for them in the run in to their Ligue 1 triumph that season - notching in an important 3-2 victory over Rennes and then scoring again in the final match of the season against his former club Caen - earning Bordeaux the Ligue 1 title and sending his former club back to Ligue 2.
The next two seasons would find him struggling for goal-scoring form... 7 goals from 54 is not inspiring form at all for a player who has famously claimed that he could score "as many as Demba". With TransferPalooza 2013™ in full swing, there were a couple of sources that became somewhat "go-to" sources on the twitter (as much as someone can be that, granted) - and there was this little bit of discussion about Monsieur Gouffran. It was said that he was as fast as Obertan, scores goals and that his finishing had improved beyond all recognition. The numbers over his last full season with Bordeaux and the first half of this season bear that out. He scored 22 goals in his last 54 appearances for Bordeaux. I'm sure that I don't have to do the math for you that his current goalscoring rate is... much better than the previous 3 years. In the same period (2011-2013), he is putting nearly 50% of his shots on frame. Although he has not replicated his 1:2 goals:SOG ratio from last season, his 1:3 (roughly) is comparable to Demba Ba's nearly 1:3 from this season. (Yoan Gouffran is no Demba Ba... let's not be confused. I have not figured the numbers exactly here - Gouffran's is 1 goal in just over every three shots on goal and Demba's is 1 goal in just under every three shots on goal - I figure we can all accept that Demba Ba is a better pure goalscorer.)
What does Yoan Gouffran bring, then?
Another player that is flexible enough to play any of the attacking positions, Gouffran is another piece of depth at a position that we seem to have numbers if not the quality that we had hoped for before the season started. He is capable of playing on the LW (Marveaux), RW (Ben Arfa), CF along side Papiss Cisse or as a "traditional #10" behind the main striker. There have been many who speculate that when Ben Arfa comes back Pardew will play Ben Arfa at the #10 role which he has stated is his preferred spot (and then followed up with saying he didn't mind playing on the right due to the freedom that AP gives him) - and that may very well be the case. Gouffran sees himself as a CF, however, so I would not be surprised to see him behind Papiss in a 4-2-3-1 flanked by Marveaux and Ben Arfa (upon his return). In the meantime, a 4-3-3 such as:
L - Marveaux - Cisse - Gouffran - R
L - Sissoko - Cabaye - Obertan - R
L - Santon - Colo - STaylor/Mapou - Debuchy - R
seems to make as much sense as anything as it would give Newcastle buckets of speed down the wings - an area that has given Aston Villa some amount of trouble in recent times. If Obertan/Debuchy are effective, Gouffran can pinch inside and provide an additional heading threat (which Sissoko also brings in his tool kit.) Guessing what Pardew will do with Gouffran (or any of the new signings), however, is a difficult proposition as he has seemed to flounder a bit with regard to formation especially this term.
P.S. He's not allergic to grass. He's allergic, apparently, to a specific variety of trees that are native to France.
See Yoan here: