Tuesday Topic: History repeats itself as another transfer deadline day draws near (From The Northern Echo)
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Tuesday Topic: History repeats itself as another transfer deadline day draws near
THREE years ago, Newcastle United's world was turned upside down on the final day of January as Andy Carroll was hastily ushered through the exit door despite countless protestations that the club would be doing all they could to keep him. The fear, as another January deadline looms, is that history is repeating itself in equally painful and disruptive fashion.
For Carroll, read Cabaye. And for an improved £35 offer from Liverpool, read an improved £20m offer from Paris St Germain. The only difference is that, this time around, things are not going down to the wire.
The parallels are impossible to ignore, and while Sunderland and Middlesbrough are likelier to be busier than Newcastle in the final week of the window, the headline-grabbing deal is occurring at St James' Park.
Last weekend's £14m offer from the French capital felt very much like a testing of the water, not to mention a fairly crude attempt to unsettle Yohan Cabaye and spark the kind of reaction that led to him briefly going on strike as he unsuccessfully tried to force through a move to Arsenal last summer.
Newcastle were never going to sell their prize asset for £14m, but given that Cabaye could potentially buy out the final two years of his contract for around £6m at the end of the season, it was aways easy to foresee a scenario where Mike Ashley responded rather differently when PSG improved their offer.
And they didn't have to go up by very much last night to elicit a green light to begin personal talks.
Alan Pardew's nightmare scenario could well be unfolding just as did back in 2011, with Cabaye sold in the final week of the window, with insufficient time to secure a replacement.
Bad planning? Not really, given that such an outcome was always possible. It is more likely that Newcastle's strong start to the season has emboldened Ashley to take a calculated risk by cashing in and weakening the squad halfway through a campaign that will not end in a relegation battle, but is equally unlikely to result in a viable pursuit of a Champions League place.
Take the money now, and see what happens in the summer. It is not exactly a template for sustained progress, but with Ashley at the helm, it seems to be the Newcastle United way.
With Jonas Gutierrez already gone, the Magpies would be significantly weakened if no one came in to replace Cabaye this month.
Montpellier are desperate to retain Remy Cabella until the end of the season, so it is hard to imagine Ashley paying the kind of premium it would take to land the attacking midfielder now. The same is true of the highly-rated Clement Grenier at Lyon.
Luuk de Jong on loan from Borussia Monchengladbach should happen, but Cabaye's departure will still cast a long cloud over the build up to Saturday's Tyne-Wear derby.
Strikers top the agenda at Sunderland and Middlesbrough, with the former increasingly confident of completing a deal for Argentinian Ignacio Scocco before Friday's 11pm deadline.
The Black Cats have looked at a number of forwards this month, but Scocco has always been their preferred option, and his arrival would represent a notable success amid competition from Cardiff.
This has already been a good window for Gustavo Poyet. Marcos Alonso has been a huge hit since moving on loan from Fiorentina, while Oscar Ustari and Santiago Vergini have plugged gaps that were proving problematic.
Cabral and Ji Dong-won have departed, and more deadwood could disappear if Valentin Roberge and Modibo Diakite complete deals away from Wearside. Both have been told they are surplus to requirements.
That still leaves Sunderland with a bloated squad after last summer's scatter-gun approach to signings under Roberto De Fanti, but with a host of players due to become free agents at the end of the season, not to mention five loan deals that are due to expire, there will be an inevitable restructuring in six or seven months time no matter what division the Black Cats find themselves in.
Unfortunately, a permanent move for Ki Sung-Yueng will have to wait until Premier League survival is secured, but given the South Korean's quality, that surely has to be a summer priority.
For now, the key midfield issue revolves around Liam Bridcutt and Lee Cattermole. Poyet clearly wants Bridcutt, and an agreement with Brighton, which could well involve Connor Wickham as a makeweight, is anticipated.
HEADING TO THE EXIT: Lukas Jutkiewicz
It will be a double-edged sword if it necessitates Cattermole's exit though, as the Teessider has played a key role in Sunderland's turnaround in the last few months. With his side's league position still fragile, this is not the time for Poyet to be jettisoning a key dressing-room figure with considerable influence both on and off the pitch.
Over at Middlesbrough, there is also a balance to be struck between incomings and exits in the final week of the window.
Aitor Karanka has repeatedly admitted his squad is too big, and while the loan exit of four players on Friday helped ameliorate some of that, further departures are anticipated before Friday night.
Boro have been trying to wash their hands of Faris Haroun all month, but the bigger decisions relate to Lukas Jutkiewicz, who is edging towards Bolton, and Rhys Williams, who continues to interest Swansea and Celtic.
Losing either of those players would be a much bigger deal that watching the likes of Luke Williams or Adam Reach depart.
Removing one or both from the wage bill would create some leeway in terms of the financial fair play regulations though, and while Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah have both arrived on loan from Chelsea, Karanka is eyeing the acquisition of a striker as he looks to keep his side in the promotion mix.
Jelle Vossen has been Boro's leading target for more than a year now, but Cardiff's interest has driven his price up and the Belgium international has expressed concern at playing in the Championship during a World Cup year.
Might Luciano Becchio, Kevin Doyle or Danny Graham be more realistic options? Possibly, although all three command 'Premier League' wages even though they are not necessarily playing in the division, and some tough negotiating would be required to drive through a deal.
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