NEWCASTLE UNITED are happy to head into the rest of the season with their newlyformed squad – even if they would still like a new striker at St James’ Park.
The Magpies are not likely to bring in any more players before Thursday’s transfer deadline, although work is continuing to strengthen Alan Pardew’s attacking ranks.
When Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko was paraded in front of the media on Saturday he became the fifth arrival this month.
And after adding Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga- Mbiwa, Massadio Haidara and Yoan Gouffran to his ranks since the turn of the year, Pardew would still prefer to bring in another new striker.
But Newcastle are prepared to wait until the summer rather than pay over the odds and have had talks with a number of European clubs to see what deals can be done.
St Etienne’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the preferred target, but he is in no rush to move before the end of the season amid interest from across Europe for the £10mrated Gabon forward.
That has led to Newcastle checking on the availability of another African, Vitesse Arnhem’s £12m-rated Wilfried Bony, who is on African Cup of Nations duty with Cheik Tiote and the Ivory Coast.
Newcastle are also interested in bringing in another young midfielder, but Bastia and Standard Liege are prepared to wait to see what other offers come along for William Vainqueur, 24, and Florian Thauvin, 20, respectively.
The new signings are all hoping to be involved at Aston Villa tomorrow night.
Haidara, who turned 20 last month, is hungry to succeed on the Premier League stage, but moving from Nancy after just 46 first team appearances means he is not expecting too much too soon.
The left-back is also capable of playing through the middle and his first task will be to challenge Davide Santon for a starting spot.
“I am not daunted by it. I am young, but I made the choice to come here and I knew exactly what to expect by coming to Newcastle,” said Haidara. “I came here to learn about the English game. I wanted to play alongside fantastic players which we have here. I don’t want to go too fast, obviously, and if I have to wait then I have to wait. But if I am called upon to play, I will be ready.”
The Trappes-born defender regularly watches Patrice Evra, Marcelo and Gareth Bale in action because he is keen to develop his style, which is already regarded as an attack-minded full-back.
Having arrived in a £2.5m deal, he is excited about the future.
“It’s a massive club in the Premier League, it’s got a great history and compared to the other interest I had from other clubs, Newcastle really showed an interest in wanting me here,” said Haidara, who is a player of Senegalese descent that has represented France at under-21s.
“Newcastle indeed showed that they wanted to push this through compared to the others. They really wanted to push through a deal immediately and quickly.
“They were always calling my agent trying to work out a deal and make it go through.
They were calling my advisers and that pleased me as well. I wanted to make sure it would get done.”
If Haidara expects his first team call-up to take time, supporters are hoping another of the new boys will make a quick impression.
Sissoko, who had agreed to move as a free agent in the summer, completed his £1.8m move to Tyneside from Toulouse and is in Pardew’s thinking for the trip to Villa Park.
And the France international, given a six-and-a-half year contract, is hoping to live up to his billing after being likened to former Arsenal and Les Bleus midfielder Patrick Vieira – as well as helping the Magpies reach the Champions League in the long term.
He said: “Obviously our priority and main objective at the moment is to get into a better position this season and to finish as high as we can. Looking ahead to next season and beyond, I think we need to try to finish as high as we possibly can. We should aim for qualification for the Europa League and even Champions League if we can.
Why not try and go as far as possible in those competitions, too?
“In the long-term, as I have mentioned, I think Newcastle can become one of the best teams in England. I want to do that, that is why I came to England and it will be an exciting challenge for me to try and do this with Newcastle. I hope to add to this squad.”
Hatem Ben Arfa, meanwhile, has reiterated a desire to play for boyhood club Paris St Germain one day. But he is still weeks away from a return from injury, but added: “If Newcastle are really ambitious, then I will stay.”
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