NEWCASTLE UNITED have inquired about the availability of Remy Cabella, but are only expected to make a move for the highly-rated French midfielder if Yohan Cabaye leaves Tyneside this month.
YOU’RE OFF: Referee Lee Mason shows Newcastle United’s Mathieu Debuchy a red card on Wednesday against West Brom
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Members of the Magpies scouting team have watched Cabella on a number of occasions this season, and Montpellier are aware of the club’s interest in the 23-year-old.
Montpellier president Louis Nicollin has slapped a 14m Euros price tag on the versatile midfielder’s head, but there is likely to be considerable room for negotiation given the Ligue 1 club’s straitened financial position.
Manchester United and Arsenal have also been extensively linked with Cabella, who has scored six goals in 18 games this season as he has alternated between a central midfield role and a position on the wing.
Alan Pardew has claimed Newcastle will make signings this month if they feel there is a bargain to be had, but there is unlikely to be further contact with Montpellier officials unless Cabaye’s departure becomes inevitable.
Despite Paris St Germain and Arsenal both publicly distancing themselves from a January move for Cabaye, the midfielder is widely regarded to be the most vulnerable of all of Newcastle’s leading lights when it comes to a potential departure this month.
Having effectively gone on strike in an attempt to force through a move to Arsenal in August, Cabaye would love the opportunity to play Champions League football in the second half of the season.
With Mike Ashley continuing to insist that every player has their price, it would be foolish to rule out the France international leaving. However, with no one declaring their hand at this stage, there is a cautious confidence among the Magpies hierarchy that Cabaye will still be a Newcastle player when the transfer window closes on January 31.
Provided that remains the case, there is no great desire to fund a big-money move for a midfielder or attacker when the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse have been unable to hold down a regular starting place in the first half of the season.
Yesterday saw fevered speculation that Newcastle were lining up a loan move for Everton defender John Heitinga, much of which was fuelled by a tweet from Jack Sullivan, the son of West Ham United owner, David, who claimed the Dutchman had pulled out of a proposed move to Upton Park in order to sign for the Magpies.
The claims were immediately denied, and while Heitinga has indeed turned his back on West Ham, Sullivan was forced to release a hasty retraction stating that the developments were not linked to any other club.
While the sudden speculation underlined the way in which rumours can quickly develop in the era of rolling news and saturated social media, its potential plausibility reflected Newcastle’s shortage of defensive options in the next few weeks.
Fabricio Coloccini is facing up to six weeks on the sidelines after damaging his medial ligaments in Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at West Brom, while Mathieu Debuchy will miss the next three matches following his dismissal at the Hawthorns.
With the score still at 0-0 when Debuchy was sent off, the Frenchman’s two-footed lunge was a major factor in Newcastle ultimately losing the game, but Moussa Sissoko has claimed the full-back has nothing to apologise for despite the ill-advised nature of the challenge.
“We are all 100 per cent behind Mathieu,” said Sissoko. “There is absolutely no doubt that he played the ball, but he went in with two feet and that is why he was punished.
“The referee decided it was dangerous and we have to live with that. But we all know that Mathieu is not a dangerous player and he certainly did not let anyone down. He has nothing to say sorry for.
“These things happen in football. On this occasion he took a red card and we will be without him for the next few games. But we will cope when he is not there and we know he was only trying to do his best for the team.”
Wednesday’s defeat followed hot on the heels of Sunday’s 1-0 reverse to Arsenal, and left Newcastle five points adrift of the European places in eighth position.
They take on Cardiff City in the FA Cup third round tomorrow, and Sissoko insists there is no sense of panic despite Newcastle’s festive fortunes taking a turn for the worse.
“It’s disappointing to lose two games in a row,” he said. “But it is not as though we have suddenly started playing badly. We are still playing well.
“We are still on course for a very good season, but now we have to make sure that we get back to winning games. We play against Cardiff in the FA Cup, and in terms of our confidence, it is very important that we win.
“There will not be any panic because we have lost a couple of matches. We are still in the top eight positions in the table, and compared to where we were last year, that is still good.”