Alan Pardew watched his side kick off their pre-season programme with a 2-1 defeat at Oldham Athletic last night, but off the pitch, the Magpies boss continues to make considerable progress as he rebuilds the squad that struggled so badly in the second half of last season.
Janmaat was on Tyneside for most of yesterday undergoing a medical and finalising the personal terms of his move from Holland, and while he jetted back to his homeland last night, his move should be confirmed later today.
That will trigger confirmation of Mathieu Debuchy’s switch to Arsenal, with Newcastle banking around £7m as they switch France’s international right-back for Holland’s first-choice in the same position.
Janmaat will become Newcastle’s fifth summer signing, following Siem de Jong, who scored the Magpies’ only goal at Oldham, Ayoze Perez, Jack Colback and Remy Cabella.
The tally could rise to six ahead of Friday’s departure for a pre-season tour of New Zealand as talks with Monaco officials over a £6m deal for Riviere are at an advanced stage.
Newcastle have been pursuing a number of attacking targets this summer, but Lyon’s refusal to lower their valuation of Alexandre Lacazette resulted in them stepping up their interest in Riviere, a 24-year-old forward who has scored 14 goals in 44 appearances for Monaco.
“I think (the Janmaat deal) is pretty close to be honest,” said Pardew. “That’s all I can say at the moment because I’ve been with the team all day. I don’t know the details of it. We’re being active at the moment and we need to be. We need to be stronger than we were last year.
“That’s (the Riviere deal) another one that we’re talking to (the club), but it’s difficult to say. He is a player that we have some interest in.”
Neither player will take part in the pre-season tour of New Zealand, with Cabella also not due to link up with his new team-mates until they return for a second trip to Germany at the end of the month.
Last night’s friendly kicked off Newcastle’s pre-season programme, and while the result might not have gone the way he wanted, Pardew was reasonably pleased with his players’ efforts.
“You could see they (Oldham) were a couple of weeks ahead of us in terms of the training, but we expected that,” he said. “I thought the senior players all did well and it was nice to see some of the new lads on the field.”
The game was played at the newly-renamed Sports Direct.com Park, with the rebranding of Oldham’s stadium no doubt explaining why Newcastle’s players were trekking across the Pennines at such an early stage of their pre-season schedule.
The main interest from a Magpies perspective was the debut appearances of Colback, who started at the heart of midfield, de Jong, who wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini, and Perez, who came off the bench for a 36-minute run out in the second half.
Notable absentees included Tim Krul and Cheik Tiote, who have been granted extra leave in the wake of their World Cup exploits, Cabella, who is back in France after signing over the weekend, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux, who have been exiled in the opening week of training, and Jonas Gutierrez, whose whereabouts remain the subject of some conjecture, with club officials remaining tight-lipped.
De Jong’s £7.5m capture from Ajax is regarded as something of a coup within Newcastle’s recruitment team, and while it would be wrong to read too much into last night’s display given the low-key nature of the game, the Dutchman looked mobile and comfortable in possession before he was withdrawn shortly after the hour mark.
Playing in the hole behind Adam Armstrong, he opened his Magpies account in some style in the 14th minute, drilling a fierce drive into the roof of the net after his initial free-kick had been blocked on the edge of the area.
Newcastle were the dominant force throughout the first half, but were indebted to Jak Alnwick three minutes after the interval, with the 21-year-old goalkeeper deflecting Jonson Clarke-Harris’ shot over the crossbar after Vurnon Anita’s slip had afforded the Oldham striker a clear run on goal.
The second half was interrupted by a steady stream of substitutes, with Newcastle’s fluency suffering as a result, and Oldham claimed a deserved equaliser when Timothee Dieng found himself completely unmarked to head home a corner at the back post.
The hosts then claimed a winner with 11 minutes left as Alnwick allowed a tame Willy Gros shot to squirm under his body and into the net.
OLDHAM (4-4-2): Rachubka; B Wilson, Kusunga (Lockwood 64), J Wilson, Mills (Brown 64); Turner (Sheriff 46), Jones (Mellor 64), Dayton (Llera 64), Kelly (Winchester 64), Forte (Dieng 64); Clarke-Harris (Gros 64).
Sub (not used): Coleman (gk).
NEWCASTLE (4-4-1-1): Alnwick; Anita (Satka 54), S Taylor (Streete 64), Yanga-Mbiwa, Dummett (Bigirimana 71); Gouffran (Ameobi 46), Abeid, Colback, Aarons (Haidara 64); de Jong (Vuckic 64); Armstrong (Perez 54).
Sub (not used): Woodman (gk).