ALAN Pardew is confident Fabricio Coloccini's commitment to Newcastle United has not wavered despite the skipper's request to return to his native Argentina being denied.
A week of frantic negotiations finally came to an end yesterday as Coloccini agreed to remain on Tyneside until at least the end of the season.
Having previously threatened to renege on his contract and walk out on Newcastle, the 31-year-old has been persuaded to honour his commitments for the next four months in order to assist Newcastle's attempts to safeguard their Premier League status.
Loading article content
Coloccini will retain the captain's armband and is set to start Tuesday's crucial game at Aston Villa alongside new signing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, with Pardew confident the Argentinian will continue to give his all despite this month's discussions.
"He is going to stay with us and will remain as captain which is fantastic news," said the Newcastle boss. "It's a situation where me and Colo have been on a personal journey.
"It's something that needed to be sorted out this week after the Reading game. The Reading game was a watershed moment for me, we needed to sort it out and we have. You all know Colo very well, he wouldn't play if he didn't think he was right.
"He appreciates the situation we are in. I think he understands the responsibility he has to this football club. People lost their jobs the last time this football club were relegated, ten or 11 people whose livelihoods were altered. It's not life or death if you go down, but it's life changing for a football team. We need our captain to lead us out."
Retaining Coloccini was always Newcastle's target from the moment the defender revealed his desire to return to Argentina for personal reasons.
Had San Lorenzo, his preferred destination, been able to raise more than £7m, the Magpies might have been willing to do business. However, it became clear at any early stage of discussions that San Lorenzo did not possess the funds required to buy Coloccini, and the defender was not in a position to buy out his own contract.
While Pardew in particular has been sympathetic to the defender's personal situation, Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias were adamant their club would not be left out of pocket because of circumstances beyond their control.
This week's talks ended with a firm insistence that Coloccini would not be able to walk away and transfer his registration to another club in Argentina, although further discussions are likely to place at the end of the season to secure a long-term settlement that is acceptable to all parties.
The Coloccini situation has slightly overshadowed a week of hectic transfer dealings that continued last night as Moussa Sissoko was confirmed as Newcastle's fifth signing of the January transfer window.
The midfielder has completed a £1.8m move from Toulouse, with the Magpies having paid a fee to bring forward his transfer from the summer, when they would have been able to secure his services as a free agent.
Sissoko, who boasts two full international caps, is the 11th French player on Newcastle's books, with the club now boasting more senior players from one overseas country than any other side in the history of the Premier League.
Former Sunderland midfielder Steed Malbranque has joined ex-Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier in predicting the sudden influx of French players will cause problems in the Newcastle dressing room.
Pardew has previously criticised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger for fielding too few English players, but the Magpies manager rejects suggestions that this week's signing policy could backfire.
"It is nothing to do with foreign players," he said. "I don't really care where they come from. It doesn't matter what nationality, it is just about good players. I don't see it as any problem.
"It's an area we've had success with and, if you've had success, that influences other French players who want to find a footing in the Premier League and a new challenge. We are a good club for them because we have so many Frenchmen and that makes it easier to settle."
The likes of Sissoko, Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara have only a limited grasp of English, but Pardew will not be relaxing his rules on a blanket ban on foreign languages during all training sessions and team meetings.
"I've said the same thing to this week's signings as I say to all my French players - I will speak in English and they all need to learn it very quickly for their education and for the team," he said.
"We talk in English on the pitch. French dialogue can go on among themselves in their own time, but they have to understand English and understand me. One or two of them are a bit limited and need to practice, but we'll help them with that."
This week's arrivals have joined a side struggling just two points above the relegation zone, but Pardew denies there has been any sense of panic about his spending spree.
"If you look at the signings closely, there isn't a quick fix in there which is what some teams have tried to do in the past when they are in a relegation position," he said. "We've been bold, but there is a vision for these players, they're not going to be moved on in the summer, they are here for the next three or four years.
"Two were done before Reading really, and two were accelerated from the summer. But we've been scouting them for the last eight or nine months."