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M’Baye Niang already making an impact at Watford

Wednesday 8th February 2017
During the January transfer window, Watford agreed on a loan deal to sign young talent, M'Baye Niang. The Frenchman has made an instant impression on the Premier League, with his performances helping the Hornets secure a valuable six points in their last two games.

Watford's start to this campaign was respectable, with new manager Walter Mazzarri at the helm, the club delivered an unforgettable display to defeat Manchester United followed by a period of grinding out one-goal wins, which took them into the top half of the table. However, from mid-December, Mazzarri's side entered a bad spell and failed to win any of their next seven league games. Watford found themselves in trouble and something had to change, immediately.

Fast-forward just over two weeks, and Watford have turned their fortunes around: the most recent victory over Burnley was preceded by a shock 2-1 win at the Emirates, which ensured the Hornets returned to their former position in mid-table and created a ten point gap to the relegation places. The club's upturn in results involves different factors, but new additions to the squad have brought a fresh outlook to Vicarage Road. Since Tom Cleverley's arrival from Everton, he has produced two assists; however, one man has delivered to a greater extent - M'Baye Niang.
Niang began his career as a youngster with Caen, and he made his professional debut in 2011. Having impressed in France, the attacker signed for Italian giants AC Milan; however, despite showing early signs of promise, which included becoming the second ever youngest goalscorer for the Rossoneri (17 years and 350 days), he failed to prove himself at the San Siro. Two years out on loan followed, with Montpellier and Genoa. Although Niang returned to Milan for the beginning of last season and scored 8 times in 21 appearances, due to injuries and loss of form during this campaign, the France under-21 international was once again given permission to leave on loan.

Watford wasted no time in snapping up the 22-year-old; judging from his opening two games in English football, the signing looks inspired. Niang made his first appearance away at Arsenal; a daunting prospect for most new players to the Premier League, but the youngster thrived on the left-wing. He looked confident on the ball and was willing to take defenders on without hesitation.

Niang's second taste of the Premier League proved even more effectual, as he played a crucial role in securing three points at home to Burnley: Watford's latest recruit provided a scintillating cross to assist the opening goal, and then on the stroke of half-time, he headed home to open his account for the Hornets. Mazzarri's team came away with two vital victories in the space of a week; the energy provided by Niang, in addition to his fine ability, made an enormous difference.

Below is a video of Niang in action against Burnley.
Over the years, the Watford forward has been compared to Mario Balotelli - and not just for his attributes on the pitch but for wrongdoings away from it: Niang has been involved in several off-field incidents, which include driving without a licence and obtaining a suspended 18-month jail sentence for an alleged hit and run. However, despite his previous manager, Vincenzo Montella, having reservations about his attitude, the Milan loanee looks to have settled quickly at Vicarage Road. The Watford boss remains confident of getting the best out of Niang and the pair have developed a close relationship; reported by Sky Sports, Mazzarri said:
I treat him as if he were my son. Speaking with him every day, of course. I ask him for suggestions and I think he listens to me as well. A player with his qualities, if he has made mistakes in the past the important thing is that he doesn't do it anymore and he keeps following my suggestions.
Watford were suffering a poor run of form, they needed inspiration from somewhere and also to replace the departing Odion Ighalo. So in stepped Niang, a rangy striker at just over six feet tall, who's a talented dribbler, strong on the ball, and offers pace on the counter-attack. He's still a raw talent, one who was recently linked to Arsenal, but with genuine potential which the Hornets are hoping to exert the most of.

Although Niang has proven his immense ability over the last two games, it's still early in his Premier League career and consistency could be an issue judging by his past record. Can the Frenchman maintain his superb form? If so, Watford are likely to take up the option to sign him permanently at the end of the season - Niang could then further develop and become an integral player for the club.
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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