Alan Pardew insists it is not “cut and dried” that Yohan Cabaye will leave Newcastle United this summer – even if the World Cup offers him a platform to impress “big clubs” this summer.
Cabaye’s midweek admission that he misses playing in the Champions League has sparked a fresh round of speculation about the midfielder’s future, with Roma and Paris Saint Germain again linked with the Newcastle playmaker.
The Journal understands that United are highly unlikely to sell Cabaye in January but there is a widely held assumption – both on Tyneside and in France, where his agent was responsible for much of the summer speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal – that he will depart in the summer.
United did have a contingency plan over the close season that involved a move for Etienne Capoue – who subsequently joined Tottenham – and are again working on replacements if Cabaye goes in the next six months. But with a contract that extends until 2016, Pardew insists they are under no pressure to sell a player who has a big season in front of him.
“This is a campaign which is going to be very crucial to Yohan Cabaye. There was a lot of speculation that he was going to move but his application has been spot on,” Pardew said.
“He is under contract with us and of course, that is where his future lies until such time as we say his future does not lie here. So in some ways, it is not cut and dried in any shape or form.
“But I don’t want that to appear as a negative for Yohan because it is a World Cup year for him and I think we are all aware there will be a lot of eyes on him between now and the end of June. There are a lot of big clubs who would be interested in him, I’m sure.
“He has repaired his relationship with fans by his performances which have been as good as he has played for us. There is a real focus in him at the minute and certainly as a forward passer, he is as good a midfield player as I have worked with and I have worked with a few very, very good ones. So that puts him in the really top bracket.”
Pardew absolved the midfielder of any blame for the latest surge in speculation about his future, arguing that French media asked “loaded” questions of the former Lille man.
He said: “Some times when they are abroad they get asked questions which are slightly loaded and slightly different connotations to them.
“If you want to ask me if I want to play in the Champions League I do, absolutely and Yohan wants to play in the Champions League of course. But we want him to do that here, we are trying to build that but it is difficult and it is only players like Yohan Cabaye who will get us there. For
him to have ambitions to play in the Champions League, I have absolutely no problem with that, none whatsoever and we have geared him up to have a fantastic World Cup so he is in great shape at the minute.
“I think he is one of the best players in the league.”
Pardew also had no problem with captain Fabricio Coloccini once again speaking of a desire to return to Argentina.
He harboured similar desires last January but returned to play a huge part in Newcastle’s survival efforts and Pardew praised the defender’s “professionalism” as he ponders a return for the skipper alongside Mike Williamson.
He said: “As far as Colo is concerned, he is our captain, and of course it is well documented that last year the pangs of home were pulling on him.
“But he is a professional, he is a professional player here, he has been brilliant for us, he is our captain and I am just letting our fans know there is no big deal.”