NEWCASTLE UNITED have edged closer to sealing the signature of long-term target Modibo Maiga and goalkeeper Tim Krul thinks any new recruits would join a ‘great team’ possessing the resilience to stay among the Premier League’s European contenders.
Less than 24 hours after a point against Tottenham kept the Magpies fourth in the top-flight, it emerged that further talks with French club Sochaux over the sale of Maiga have progressed.
The 24-year-old, who has scored four goals in six games this season, has outlined a desire to head for St James’ Park and discussions between the clubs have been successful.
Now Maiga, a Mali international who had tried to push through the move in August, is expected to get his wish when the transfer window opens in January.
French sources claim the striker will move for a fee in the region of £7m and could even come in and fill in the No 9 shirt last worn by Andy Carroll.
Newcastle have already done a decent job in starting the campaign promisingly without the multi-million pound attacking acquisition manager Alan Pardew had wanted throughout the summer.
Despite falling from behind twice against Tottenham on Sunday, the Magpies battled back twice to claim a draw and remain unbeaten.
It was a result which ensured Newcastle stayed fourth ahead of this Saturday’s visit of Wigan and further Premier League fixtures against Stoke City and Everton.
If Newcastle can claim a couple of victories in those three matches then they will head into successive fixtures against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea in good shape.
And having held both Arsenal and Tottenham to draws already this season, Krul thinks Newcastle have nothing to be frightened of when they are faced with Champions League contenders.
“We’ve shown we have enormous resilience and that comes through belief - and that belief is growing every week,” said Krul. “We’ve had a fantastic start and that creates belief in each other.
“The manager makes sure everybody knows their jobs, everyone knows what to do to get results.
“We’re not looking at targets, the manager has made it clear that we don’t have to be scared of anyone but it’s a long season.
“We don’t have to go shouting ‘We can do this, we can do that’. If we play every week like we did against Tottenham then we’re going to get a lot of good results.’’ One of the biggest problems Newcastle were expected to face this season was the lack of numbers. However, as time has gone on, there is a growing belief the squad is much stronger than first thought.
Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi came off the bench against Tottenham and they had sat alongside Sylvain Marveaux and Peter Lovenkrands for most of the game.
Krul, keeping out the experienced hands of Steve Harper, said: “Over 90 minutes we’re looking like a great team and although people said we have no stars, look at the side.
“Fabricio Coloccini is a great player, Cheik Tiote is too. And Shola was out for a couple of weeks but came in and scored a really, really great goal on Sunday.
“Let’s look at it game by game. Wigan are our opponents at home on Saturday and if we play like we have been then we will have a really good chance of winning.”
The role of Pardew in Newcastle’s fortunes should not be under-estimated either and Krul admitted the boss “has made the players believe”.
Such belief has certainly rubbed off on Krul, who against Spurs conceded two goals for the first time this season.
“I feel a better goalkeeper now,” said the Holland international.
“The last year has been a great experience - it has been a learning experience for me.
“This year I felt ready from the summer, I had seen everything last year and been through everything. I’m not surprised about anything anymore and if you win those games that we have it gives you an extra little push of confidence.”