Newcastle determined to repeat summer stance by holding on to Cabaye in January

The Northern Echo: KEY PLAYER: Alan Pardew is determined to hold on to Yohan Cabaye next month despite anticipated interest from Paris St Germain and Arsenal KEY PLAYER: Alan Pardew is determined to hold on to Yohan Cabaye next month despite anticipated interest from Paris St Germain and Arsenal

ALAN PARDEW insists Newcastle United were right to do everything in their power to hold on to Yohan Cabaye this summer, and has promised to do all he can to ensure the French midfielder is still a Magpies player by the end of next month's transfer window.

Cabaye was the subject of a failed £10m bid from Arsenal in August, and briefly refused to play for Newcastle as he attempted to force through a move to the Emirates.

The Tyneside hierarchy held firm despite Cabaye's obvious desire to leave the North-East, and have been rewarded by the midfielder's magnificent displays as the Magpies have claimed a place in the top six.

They could well have another difficult decision to make next month as Paris St Germain boss Laurent Blanc has been promised extensive funds by his club's Qatari owners, and has identified Cabaye as his number one target as he plots an assault on the latter stages of the Champions League.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger could also make another offer, but as he prepares to lead his side into action against the table-topping Gunners tomorrow, Pardew has underlined Cabaye's importance to the Newcastle cause and reaffirmed his desire to hold on to the 27-year-old.

“It's not at all strange that Arsenal were interested in Yohan, but in the end they went with Ozil,” said the Magpies manager, whose side have won seven of their last nine Premier League games. “That's been particularly good business for them, but I think the better piece of business was us keeping Yohan Cabaye.

“I saw The Sun put a £22m valuation on him, and I don't know what the other newspapers' price is, but it isn't our price.

“We don't want to sell him, of course we don't. He is the main man here, and he's got the platform to be the main man at a big club. You don't always get that.

“He should savour that, and take it all the way to France and beyond to the World Cup because if he stays where he is now, I think he's going to be a major influence at the World Cup.”

This time last year, Newcastle were heading to the Emirates and finishing on the wrong end of a humiliating 7-3 reverse that neatly encapsulated the sense of chaos they were experiencing at the time.

Twelve months on, and it would be a major surprise if Newcastle were similarly unravelled despite Arsenal's current position at the top of the Premier League pile.

The Magpies have won seven of their nine league matches since the start of November, a run that has taken them into the top six.

They go into the weekend just six points off top spot, and while no one is seriously suggesting they will contend for the league title, a Champions League place is no longer the impossibility it appeared at the start of the campaign.

“I'd like to think that we'll run Arsenal close,” said Pardew. “If we can beat them, then we'll have to seriously look at our aspirations for the year.

“We've obviously beaten some good teams leading up to this, but I think where we are and the expectations of what we can achieve will be different if we win this game.

“Arsenal have been the best team this season, and I don't think anyone will argue with that, so it will certainly tell us a lot about how good we are if we can beat them, especially after the result against Stoke.

“Arsenal had a terrific result against West Ham (on Thursday), and if you can beat one of the top teams like Arsenal, it's really going to put us in good shape towards the top of the league.

“It would tick a big box for us, but having said that, if we lose the game, that won't dampen our aspirations.”

Ask Pardew why Newcastle have improved so much this season, and it will not take long for the Magpies manager to cite the absence of the Europa League as a key factor behind his side's success.

Last term, the European programme felt like a convenient excuse for the club's underachievement. However, the way in which Tottenham and Swansea have struggled to deal with the demands of the Europa League this term suggest there is merit in the argument.

Newcastle are one of three clubs in the current top eight not to be involved in any European football this season – Liverpool and Everton are the others – and that could prove a considerable advantage once the continental programme resumes next spring.

“Jose Mourinho said quite rightly the other day that without a European campaign, we have an advantage, and that's for sure,” said Pardew. “If we can get through until that kicks in again, that will help us.

“That extra work you can do in between games is important, and it's always worked well for me when I've had a week to prepare my team. Those factors are big reasons. A lot of this team finished fifth before, so their current form is not a great surprise. But it's still a great season for us, and we want it to continue.”


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