FABRICIO COLOCCINI has rocked Newcastle United by requesting to leave St James’ Park this month, with the Premier League club frantically looking to find a quick solution to a situation likely to end in his departure.
But while Coloccini’s preferred destination is one of his former teams in Argentina, San Lorenzo, the club’s president has admitted they cannot afford to sign the Magpies skipper and are relying on his contract at St James’ Park being scrapped.
Coloccini, who boarded the plane yesterday with the rest of the squad for today’s trip to Norwich City, has made his feelings known to manager Alan Pardew, who is reluctantly considering potential replacements. The centrehalf has cited personal matters for expressing a desire to return to Argentina before the January transfer window closes and San Lorenzo, where his father Osvaldo is employed, are keen to grant his wish.
But his hopes of a quick return to South America, where he played for San Lorenzo during 2000-1, will not be straightforward.
Newcastle are in a strong position in their discussions because he committed to a new four-year deal last year, although they would have to accept much less than the £10m fee speculated during the summer when Manchester City were credited with an interest.
San Lorenzo are not in a position to pay anything like Coloccini’s going rate, and would instead need his contract to be cancelled.
San Lorenzo president Matias Lammens said: “Time is running out for the signing.
When you go for a class A defender, the timings are a bit different, but if in the next week we don’t have a response then we will have to go for another option.
“Coloccini’s arrival is very difficult. We can’t go out and buy him – we have always said that we depended on the desire of the player to rescind (his deal). We can offer him a very good contract in the case of him rescinding, but San Lorenzo have nothing left to do with regards to the negotiating.”
The Newcastle boardroom ideally do not want to see their highest earner, at £3m-ayear, unhappy, so must consider all eventualities.
However, the Magpies are already short of options and had hoped to be strengthening the squad this month rather than weakening it.
While Pardew has brought in £5.5m right-back Mathieu Debuchy from Lille, he is yet to replace Demba Ba following his £7.5m departure.
And if Danny Simpson, out of contract this summer, is sold to Fulham, who are on the verge of selling right-back Stephen Kelly to Reading, then Newcastle could have lost three players and bought just one once Coloccini’s situation is sorted out.
Newcastle – whose left-back Davide Santon is also interesting AC Milan – have been working on adding a new defender, but if Coloccini was to leave then a second new centre-back would be recruited, as well as Ba’s replacement.
Newcastle have been in contact with Valenciennes for left-back Gaetan Bong, while Twente’s Douglas, Montpellier’s Mapou Yanga- Mbiwa and West Ham’s James Tomkins have all been on the radar of chief scout Graham Carr.
But Pardew admits the overseas market is more than likely going to be what he dips into again. He said: “The bottom line is we’ve got to get the best possible player and that’s been Arsene Wenger’s argument for 20 years.
“The problem you have in the Premier League is overinflated prices from chief executives and managers, it makes it very difficult for players to move in the Premier League. That’s why you’ve had an influx of foreign players and it’s why we will again.”
Pardew will be desperate for a quick end to the latest problem during a campaign in which Ba’s departure and a long list of injuries to key players has severely knocked his team’s performance.
He could turn to Coloccini, who has not handed in a written transfer request despite expressing a wish to leave, for what could be the last time today.
Newcastle know that a first away win is required against Norwich to ease fears of slipping in to the relegation zone.
With Steven Taylor not due back until Reading travel to Tyneside next week, Pardew could do with Coloccini partnering Mike Williamson at the heart of the defence today.