NEWCASTLE UNITED manager Alan Pardew has compiled a list of defensive targets as the club prepares for life after Fabricio Coloccini.
While the focus remains on bringing in a new striker – most likely Borussia Monchengladbach’s Luuk de Jong - this month, the Magpies boss has also indentified a number of defenders he believes could fill the void left by Coloccini, who is likely to leave St James’ Park this summer.
The Tynesiders are happy to wait until the Argentine’s future is resolved once and for all before upping their interest in anyone, but with Steven Taylor’s future also uncertain – the defender has been linked with a move to Stoke City – Pardew is keen to have options up his sleeve.
Sevilla defender Juan Torres Ruiz, also known as ‘Cala’, is believed to be on Pardew’s radar. The fact the 24-year-old is out of contract in the summer would suit Magpies’ owner Mike Ashley, and talks over a new deal in his homeland have stalled suggesting a move in on the cards.
St Etienne’s Kurt Zouma, who was a summer target of the Magpies, is also under consideration, as is West Ham’s James Tomkins, but Pardew will wait to see whether the Hammers can avoid relegation before rekindling his long-standing interest in the defender.
Coloccini is currently nursing a knee injury he sustained in the New Year’s Day defeat to West Brom back in Argentina, and speculation continues as to how much longer he will stay at St James’ Park.
The 31-year-old asked to leave twelve months ago citing personal reasons behind his desire to return to South America, but the Magpies blocked a move to his former club San Lorenzo and convinced their captain to stay.
However, the issue has never gone away completely and the centre-back’s desire to return to his homeland will only be fuelled by close friend Jonas Gutierrez’s departure to Norwich City.
While Pardew is hopeful of tying up a loan deal for de Jong in the coming weeks, there could also be some departures from St James’ Park this month.
The Magpies boss does not envisage losing any of his first-team players, namely Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and Papiss Cisse, who have all been attracting interest, but Dan Gosling’s future is in limbo after he returned from a six-month loan spell with Blackpool at the start of the month.
The Tangerines are keen to sign the 23-year-old on a permanent basis, but chairman Karl Oyston is reluctant to give boss Paul Ince funds to spend as speculation surrounding his future intensifies and it is understood Gosling’s Premier League wages would also prove a stumbling block.
Magpies’ defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa revealed he has tried to apologise to Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri after his rash tackle ruled the Frenchman out for eight weeks.
The Newcastle centre-back was lucky not to be red carded for the challenge, but insists he never intended to do his fellow countryman any harm.
He said: “I was waiting to meet him in front of the changing-room door but he got treatment. Then, I immediately tried to get his phone number. I called him several times but he never answered.
“I left a message, I tried again on Monday but I failed to talk to him. I will try again because I want to apologise personally. I was so sorry.
“I just wanted to prevent him from going ahead, make him fall. He stayed upright on the first tackle, but fell on the second one.
“But I clearly didn't want to hurt him or be violent with such a gesture. I wanted to trip him up, there was no nastiness.”
Blues’ boss Manuel Pellegrini has accepted Pardew's apology for what was said to him on the touchline during City's win on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Under-21s were beaten 4-1 at Tottenham yesterday thanks to a goal and two assists from England winger Andros Townsend.
Goals from Souleymane Coulibaly, Kenny McEvoy, Harry Kane and Townsend gave Spurs a four-goal lead in the first half before Michael Richardson pulled one back for the Magpies seven minute before the break.
Newcastle: Alnwick, Satka, Streete, Dummett, Gillesphey, Aarons, Bigirimana (Olley 47), Richardson, Gilliead, Armstrong (Barlaser 73), Quinn. Not used: Mitchell, Morgan, Kemen.