Mesut Ozil’s £42.5m move from Real Madrid to Arsenal has been hailed by many as one of 2013’s best pieces of transfer business – but Alan Pardew thinks the club which did best out of it was Newcastle United.
Ozil’s August deadline-day arrival transformed the Gunners into genuine Premier League contenders and ended Arsene Wenger’s interest in Yohan Cabaye.
Although the Magpies will have to brace themselves for more interest in the France playmaker when the transfer window opens next week, their own improvement since the midfielder accepted defeat in his attempts to leave the club has been noticeable.
Victory at home to Arsenal tomorrow will take Newcastle to within six points of them at the halfway point of the season.
Pardew said: “It’s not strange they (Arsenal) were interested in Yohan but in the end they went with Ozil.
“That’s been particularly good business for them, but I think the better piece of business was us keeping Yohan Cabaye. I’m only focused on my players.”
Paris Saint-Germain were another club persistently linked with Cabaye during the summer, but they too failed to put their money where their mouth was.
The suspicion is Laurent Blanc may attempt to put that right in the new year.
While Ozil’s considerable influence seems to have taken a slight dip recently, Cabaye has scored in his last three appearances. He refused to play at Manchester City in Newcastle’s opening game of the season to try to force through a move to north London but his club stood firm, adamant they would not undersell him. It will be the same next month.
Pardew quipped: “The Sun put £22m (as a valuation) on him.
“I don’t know what the Telegraph’s price is, or The Times’ price is, but it isn’t our price.
“We don’t want to sell him, of course we don’t.
“He is the main man here and he has the platform to be the main man at a big club and you don’t get always get that.”
Tomorrow’s game will be a test of both team’s aspirations, Arsenal as would-be champions, Newcastle as Europa or maybe even Champions League qualifiers.
Pardew added: “It will tell us a lot about how good we are if we can beat them, especially after the result against Stoke.
“They had a terrific result against West Ham and if you can beat one of the top teams like Arsenal it’s going to put us in good shape at the top of the league.
“It would tick a big box for us but, having said that, if we lose the game that wouldn’t dampen our aspirations either.
“I’d like to think the game is going to be an even one, but they are the type of team who can unravel you.
“We need to be on our guard about that, but we will also going out there trying to make sure we win.”
Newcastle’s options have improved after the first of three games in six days ended in a comfortable 5-1 win at home to Stoke City.
Hatem Ben Arfa pushed his case for another start, impressing on his first since October, while Vurnon Anita and Davide Santon were withdrawn before the end to keep them fresh.
Cheick Tiote returns from suspension, a fate Moussa Sissoko avoided by completing Boxing Day without a fifth yellow card this season.
Arsenal also have a midfielder back from suspension in Jack Wilshere, but his return will be offset by the absence of Aaron Ramsey with a thigh injury.
Central defender Laurent Koscielny is a doubt.
Meanwhile, striker Adam Campbell has been confirmed as the latest Newcastle player to join St Mirren on loan.
The Buddies took Paul Dummett on loan last season and have borrowed Conor Newton for the last two. Campbell will officially join on January 2, the day after his 19th birthday.
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon said: “We’re absolutely delighted he’s signed. He’ll bring another dimension to the team as we don’t have a great deal of pace up top.”