FRANCK Queudrue is hoping to fill the problematic left-back position at St James’s Park after the former Middlesbrough favourite emerged as Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce’s latest defensive target.
The 28-year-old is desperate to leave Fulham after falling out with manager Lawrie Sanchez and, with his representatives having held an informal discussion with Newcastle officials, the French B international has set his heart on a return to the North-East.
Having this week signed Geremi to fill United’s troublesome right-back berth, a manager aware Celestine Babayaro’s fitness record leaves much to be desired has turned his attentions to strengthening his defence’s opposite flank. Queudrue iss among the players being considered.
Dominique Six, the player’s agent, has confirmed that Newcastle and Everton are both interested in the unsettled Parisian, who has made it known that he does not want to work under Sanchez’s stewardship following the former Northern Ireland boss’ appointment as Chris Coleman’s successor.
“Newcastle and Everton regard Franck as a possible signing,” he said last night. “Some Premier League clubs are looking for a left-back and Franck could be a good choice. He’s a professional and is under contract to Fulham. But if an opportunity occurs, I will definitely study it.”
With Wigan adamant Leighton Baines will not be sold this summer, Everton have switched their sights to Queudrue. But it seems that United are determined to put themselves into a strong position to compete for the player’s signature should Allardyce decide to firm up his initial interest with a bid.
The Journal understands that Magpies officials held a telephone conversation with the player’s representatives yesterday morning. Although nothing has been agreed at this stage, the discussion is believed to have been positive, and sources close to Queudrue are optimistic Newcastle will make contact with Fulham to discuss a deal.
Queudrue ended his five-year association with Boro last summer to sign for Coleman. But the Welshman’s dismissal and Sanchez’s subsequent arrival have prompted him to consider his future. Queudrue is unimpressed with his manager’s tactics and Sanchez is seeking another left-back, having tabled an unsuccessful £1m bid for Southampton’s Chris Baird last month.
The former Lens defender has held talks with the French club, but his Premier League wages have proved prohibitive. Queudrue’s wife is unsettled in London and a return to the North-East is understood to appeal. The player favours Newcastle and is hoping a move will materialise.
It remains to be seen whether Allardyce will sanction an official approach as he attempts to make his fifth summer signing. Chris Mort – the man with the power in the United boardroom – this week insisted further funds are available and the Magpies boss will be keen to use them.
Eidur Gudjohnsen remains in Allardyce’s thoughts and, although the player’s father and agent again insisted last night that a striker keen to fight for his place at Barcelona has received no offers this summer, he did hint the 28-year-old could be tempted to renew acquaintances with his former Bolton boss in the future.
“He had a fantastic time there (in England),” said Arnor Gudjohnsen. “He isn’t thinking about that at the moment, but you never know in the future what’s going to happen. England would be an obvious choice. Were he to join Newcastle, it could be under Sam. It was under Sam that he made his name, he looks up to Sam.”
Meanwhile, Obafemi Martins could miss the start of Allardyce’s first pre-season programme as Newcastle manager, having been earmarked for a role in Nelson Mandela’s 89th birthday celebrations in Cape Town.
Fifa have organised an exhibition game between an African XI and a World XI on July 18 to honour South Africa’s first black president. Players past and present have been asked to take part – with Pele, Samuel Eto’o and former United boss Ruud Gullit among those whose presence has been confirmed. The match will be staged the day after United’s friendly at Hartlepool.