WITH hopes of a deadline-day deal for Clement Grenier having seemingly disappeared, Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew admits he faces a huge rebuilding task in the summer.
While Newcastle’s £8m bid for Grenier remains on the table, Lyon officials are adamant they will not be caving in before the transfer window closes at 11pm tonight.
With Mike Ashley displaying no inclination to improve his original offer, and Grenier's agent last night insisting his client would be remaining in France, that almost certainly means the deadline will pass with Luuk de Jong’s loan move from Borussia Monchengladbach representing the Magpies’ only January addition.
"It is not easy to say no to a big club like Newcastle United, but Clement has finally decided to stay in Lyon," said Grenier's agent, Frederic Guerra. "Lyon are regaining form, and Clement did not want to leave the club along the way, during a season.
"Finally, the conditions of his departure did not create a favourable environment to flourish. Clement would have arrived at Newcastle not as Clement Grenier, but as replacing Yohan Cabaye.
"As an agent of Clement Grenier, I also have to think, 'Is Clement really twice cheaper than Yohan Cabaye?'"
With no other signing likely, this will be the second transfer window in which Newcastle have failed to make a permanent signing, and a host of issues will therefore need addressing at the end of the season.
At the bare minimum, Pardew will be looking to recruit two strikers to replace Loic Remy and Shola Ameobi, a creative midfielder to replace Cabaye and potentially a new centre-half to replace Fabricio Coloccini, whose future remains as uncertain as ever.
With Hatem Ben Arfa due to enter the final year of his contract in the close season, a significant amount of change could be in the offing, with Pardew admitting he could find himself constructing an entirely new team once the current campaign is over.
“I already think I’ve built two teams here,” said the Newcastle boss, who is expected to sanction the loan departure of a couple of fringe players today, and could also face a fight to hold on to Papiss Cisse in the face of continued interest from overseas.
“There was the one with Demba (Ba) and Papiss, and you would argue that at the back end of last season and this year, I built another team with (Yohan) Cabaye, (Loic) Remy, (Yoan) Gouffran and (Moussa) Sissoko. Now, I’m going to have to build another one in the summer.
“The summer is going to be very important to us because of the players we have with two years left on their contract, and the situation we have within the group. We’ve got a very young team. It turns over quickly at Newcastle and you need to have a clear mind where you are going with it.
“Not even my ego would have envisaged building three teams. I assumed I would build one, but I’ve always had a vision of how I want to play and we’ve worked towards that. But if we don’t replace Cabaye, we might have to change our style of play a little bit because of the personnel I have.”
Pardew’s hope was that Grenier or Remy Cabella would arrive as a direct replacement for Cabaye, but a deal for either is extremely unlikely today and there is no guarantee that either will be available for a fee that suits in the summer.
Once it became apparent that Lyon were unlikely to budge on their Grenier valuation, Newcastle could have turned their attention elsewhere with the likes of Ever Banega, Thomas Ince, Adel Taarabt and Lewis Holtby all available either on loan or for a cut-price fee.
Instead, they look like keeping their powder dry for the summer – a scenario that ultimately served them well when they sold Andy Carroll – and while he accepts it will weaken his squad significantly if Cabaye is not replaced this month, Pardew has defended the actions of a recruitment team headed by controversial director of football Joe Kinnear.
“We need to make sure we use Yohan’s money very wisely,” he said. “There is no point bringing a player here, for example a £6-7m player, and then finding he isn’t good enough. That would be a waste of money.
“We have to make sure we do what’s right with that money, as we did with Andy Carroll. We have to be strong about what direction we are going in, how we want to play and who is going to fill those roles.
“When it comes to finding a replacement for Yohan, you could ask five Premier League managers to find one, and it wouldn’t easy. We have a target, and we will stay on that target until such time as he gets away from us.”
De Jong trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday morning, but while the Holland international insists he is ready to start tomorrow’s Tyne-Wear derby, Pardew is reluctant to throw him straight into the starting line-up given his lack of action in the first half of the season.
De Jong’s last appearance for Borussia Monchengladbach was at the start of December, so with Remy suspended and Gouffran unavailable because of injury, Shola Ameobi is set to start as a lone striker against Sunderland.
“He’s a player we’ve had our eye on for a while,” said Pardew. “He was someone we couldn’t quite reach in his last transfer move, in terms of the finance. That hasn’t worked out as well as they would have hoped, and he’s ended up here.
“We’re looking forward to his inclusion in the squad. He hasn’t had much game action, and this is the Premier League. I would suggest I might be a better judge (of his suitability to start) than he is. But I like his confidence and he has trained very well.”