NEWCASTLE UNITED new-boy Remy Cabella wants to become a sporting icon on Tyneside by hitting the incredible heights in the Premier League his compatriot Eric Cantona reached during his time in England.
Cabella became the Magpies’ fourth signing of the summer late on Sunday night and was at St James’ Park yesterday morning, expressing his delight and aspirations after signing a six-year contract.
Newcastle are also close to concluding a deal for Holland right-back Daryl Janmaat and are continuing to push on in pursuit of other attacking targets such as Monaco’s Emmanuel Riviere and Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette. A £16m valuation for the latter, however, has prompted fresh talk of a new move to take Queens Park Rangers’ Loic Remy back to the North-East.
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But Mike Ashley has already pulled off the signing of Cabella, who flew back to Corisca to finish his summer holiday having spent most of the close-season on World Cup duty with the French. It has even emerged that Ashley brokered a knock-down £7m deal for Cabella, which is considerably lower than the £12m fee suggested in France and beyond.
The 24-year-old is viewed as one of the hottest prospects in the French game and is focused on making sure his switch to Newcastle is a success having identified the English game as the place he wants to play his football – like Premier League greats Cantona and Thierry Henry did previously.
“I know all about how good Eric Cantona and Thierry Henry were in the Premier League and to be as good as they were here is certainly something I’m looking to do,” said Cabella. “I am looking to give the best I can here. I will give my absolute maximum and make the fans and club proud of me.
“I was a little too young to remember Eric’s time in England, but what I have seen since and have heard is that he was a massive idol at Manchester United. When we were looking and hearing about that over in France that said a lot about Eric and what he achieved for Manchester. I would love to be a success at Newcastle.”
Newcastle have been tracking Cabella for more than a year, having become aware of him when chief scout Graham Carr regularly watched Montpellier in the French league. There had been talk of interest from Serie A, Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United, but Newcastle showed the strongest hand.
“I was really looking forward to signing here because it is a proud moment to be signing for a club like Newcastle United,” he said. “I have been waiting patiently for this deal to be done. I want to help Newcastle get up as high as we can in the table while I am here and to constantly improve as a player.”
Ashley would not have sanctioned the deal had he not been convinced by the player’s potential and both Carr and manager Alan Pardew have been the big movers behind signing him.
Pardew said: “I'd like to pay tribute to my staff, in particular Graham, myself, Lee (Charnley, managing director) and Mike and everyone on the board who worked really hard for this one because he's a player we think is important.
“Obviously, that's represented in the fee and represented in his commitment to us as well. I am just looking forward to seeing an exciting talent in the team and someone who can open the door. Of course, he's a player who has been on our radar for a while. It's a marquee signing for us.
"He represents all Newcastle fans love in a player. He has real flair, real hard work and commitment. But he is going to bring a talent to St James' Park that I hope our fans are going to enjoy.
"He's got great ideas when the ball comes to him and, along with [former Ajax midfielder] Siem [de Jong], is going to improve an area where we definitely needed some help. It's part of a rebuilding process, and a big part of it."
Newcastle have spent £16.3m already this summer after Cabella joined new recruits De Jong, Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback in Pardew’s squad. The spending, however, will not stop there, with Janmaat likely to be the next to arrive this week.
The aim is to have the majority of the close-season signings on board the flight to New Zealand next week for a pre-season tour and Janmaat is expected over for a medical after Feyenoord accepted an offer in the region of £5m. He is already said to have agreed personal terms.