ALAN PARDEW last night admitted Newcastle United could struggle to sign a replacement for Yohan Cabaye, with the Frenchman set to join Paris St Germain within the next 24 hours.
Having rejected a £14m bid on Sunday, Magpies owner Mike Ashley last night accepted PSG's improved offer of around £20m after Cabaye outlined his desire to move to the French capital in order to play Champions League football in the second half of the season.
Newcastle’s recruitment team have identified potential replacements, with Montpellier’s Remy Cabella and Lyon’s Clement Grenier at the top of their list, but Pardew accepts it will be difficult to complete a deal with just four days of the transfer window remaining.
However, in a development that is not related to the Cabaye discussions, the Newcastle boss is increasingly confident of signing striker Luuk de Jong on a season-long loan from Borussia Monchengladbach, with a view to a permanent transfer in the summer.
BUSY WEEK: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew
De Jong’s arrival would take some of the sting out of Cabaye’s exit, but Newcastle’s midfield options would be severely diminished if their chief play-maker was not replaced this month.
A tentative interest in Cabella was not pursued after Montpellier president Louis Nicollin provided a personal assurance that the 23-year-old would not be moving until the summer, while Lyon have slapped a £15m price tag on Grenier’s head in an attempt to temper potential interest from both Newcastle and Napoli.
“I’d be foolish if I didn’t have a plan to deal with him (Cabaye) going,” said Pardew. “We have. But until such time that a deal is agreed, we can’t put a bid of our own in.
“So at the moment, we don’t actually know whether that club is willing to sell. You hear that they might be and that a certain player might be available, but we’re getting near the end of the window now and we have to be very careful.
“We’ve informed the club concerned (PSG) that we need time (to secure a replacement) and we’re very conscious of that. There’s a price tag on everyone’s head, but it needs to be the right price that works for everyone.”
Pardew’s intention was to name Cabaye in the Newcastle side that will face Norwich City tonight, but a series of lengthy transfer talks yesterday resulted in the midfielder leaving the Magpies squad in order to fly to Paris for a medical.
The situation has strong parallels to the scenario that unfolded ahead of the opening weekend of the season, when Cabaye was left out of the squad for the trip to Manchester City after effectively going on strike in an unsuccessful attempt to force through a move to Arsenal.
The disruption this time around has occurred ahead of a trip to Carrow Road, although Cabaye's departure will also cast a considerable shadow over preparations for Saturday's Tyne-Wear derby with Sunderland.
Cabaye held a number of lengthy meetings with his personal representatives yesterday, and extensive talks between the two clubs resulted in Ashley accepting PSG's improved £20m offer at around 10pm.
“We know there’s a club interested in him, and they’re a very wealthy and powerful club,” said Pardew, during his press briefing yesterday afternoon. “We’re conscious of that, and we’re doing our best to protect Newcastle.
“The Andy Carroll situation maybe had less mileage than this one because that came really out of the blue. The (Fernando) Torres deal was a big part of the bid, and we never really expected it, we never expected to see the back of him.
“This has got as much mileage, if not more than that, because of the size of the club and the finances they have behind it.
“You’re talking to someone who lost Andy Carroll with about eight hours to go. So am I confident (of keeping Cabaye)? No, I’m not. But I don’t think any team not in a Champions League position would be.”
With Cabaye expected to have a medical and discuss personal terms later today, a deal should be concluded within the next 24 hours. Newcastle also hope to have made further progress with a proposed loan deal for de Jong by then.
The Holland international, who has only made one Bundesliga appearance all season, is set to sign a season-long loan from Borussia Monchengladbach, but Newcastle have pushed for the insertion of a clause that will enable them to complete a permanent transfer in the summer if de Jong impresses.
“We’re hoping to sign a player outside the Cabaye situation for the second half of the season, and we’re getting a bit closer to that,” said Pardew. “I don’t really like talking about players at other clubs under contract, but it is a striker.”
Borussia Monchengladbach had pushed for a possible swap deal involving Papiss Cisse, but the Senegal international, who is currently nursing a back problem, will not be leaving Tyneside this month.
Similarly, Steven Taylor will not be departing either despite speculation linking him with both Norwich and QPR.