SÉBASTIEN Bassong is convinced Charles N’Zogbia will stay at Newcastle United despite the youngster’s previous attempts to leave St James’s Park.
The two Frenchmen have become good friends at United following Bassong’s summer arrival from Metz and the defender believes his fellow France Under-21 international is happy and settled on Tyneside.
N’Zogbia has been on the verge of leaving the club in the last three transfer windows, with his agent Willie McKay claiming both Fulham and Tottenham wanted to take him to London.
But, while there may still be interest in the winger – who has had a major impact on the side since replacing the injured Damien Duff in the January window – it looks as though N’Zogbia would like to stay put.
“Charles is happy at Newcastle,” said Bassong. “The business of the transfer is up to him. But I spend a lot of time with him and I can tell you that he is happy. What is in the future I don’t know. He is a very good player and Newcastle know that.
“When I first arrived Charles helped me settle and he is one of my good friends here. He has been here for four years. He knows the city, the club and he helps me.
“He takes me to the cinema, different places. He tells me what is good and what isn’t. He has advised me and it’s the same for Habib Beye. I played with Charles for the Under-21s.”
N’Zogbia, who is contracted to Newcastle until 2012, has had a sulky reputation since he broke into the Newcastle first team, but the 22-year-old, Sir Bobby Robson’s final signing for Newcastle, has begun to lighten up this season.
The presence of the more relaxed and outgoing Bassong may have had a positive impact and the centre-back is relishing life at the club.
Although signed as “one for the future” by former manager Kevin Keegan, the defender has flourished under Joe Kinnear and has built an excellent partnership with the more experienced Fabricio Coloccini at the heart of a back four which has conceded in just two of its last five games.
That form has been enough to keep England Under-21 captain Steven Taylor on the substitutes’ bench and Bassong is thrilled with how things have developed for him this season.
He said: “I feel very good in my favourite position. It’s been a fantastic move for me and I’m really enjoying it. I’m not surprised with how quickly I have adapted to the Premier League. I have worked hard since I arrived. I’m adapting well, but it’s not all about me. It’s about my team-mates who have helped me settle.
“I don’t think that the fans think I am the main man, they just think that I’m doing well. I have my moments, maybe I’m lucky, but it’s all about the team.
“I really enjoy it at Newcastle, for the moment it’s great here. It’s an amazing club with an amazing team.
“All I want is to play more games. Joe gives confidence to me. He puts me on the pitch and I say thanks to him.
“He is a good a manager and he has made it good for us all here. He thinks I’m professional and that I should know what I have to do.
“He advises me during the game and he knows I’m young. I have to keep my concentration up.”
However, although the 2-1 win over Tottenham has lifted Newcastle up to 12th in the table, Bassong warned they are not clear of relegation danger yet.
He said: “We are very confident now. It’s too early to look at the top half. We have just come out of the bottom and we have to concentrate on playing well every game, not our position.”