Yohan Cabaye has admitted he misses playing in Europe, but insists it will not stop him giving everything for Newcastle United this season.
A number of media outlets took Cabaye’s words to mean he was trying to engineer a move to a club in the Champions League or Europa League. But a translation provided for Newcastle fanzine The Mag suggested he had stopped short of that.
What he did make clear is that he has promised to do all he can to get his team back into continental competition next season.
“It is true to say I miss the Europa League and the Champions League,” Cabaye said in an interview with World Cup-winning left-back Bixente Lizarazu for RTL radio.
“I have a season to play with Newcastle, I will give my utmost as usual and I know that at the end there is a World Cup, this is also important.
“I am concentrating on what we can do in the next few months, we are climbing and everything is going well with three wins in a row, I hope it will continue at least up to December and Boxing Day because it is a very important period.
“At the moment we are well placed (eighth in the Premier League). As for me I am trying to play the best I can, to train to the best I can, after that . . . the future will have in store for me what is meant to be.”
Many have interpreted that as a veiled threat to leave at the end of the season.
There have been constant suspicions about Cabaye’s intentions after he made himself unavailable for selection at the start of the campaign in a failed attempt to force through a move to Arsenal. But the Magpies held their nerve and refused to sell the cultured midfielder for anything less than their valuation. Cabaye made his bitterness known in an earlier interview in his homeland, suggesting director of football Joe Kinnear was to blame, but refusing to elaborate as to why.
Cabaye thinks the greater physicality of the Premier League has improved his game since leaving then-French champions Lille in July 2011.
“It has been good for me to come here with regards to the physicality,” he said. “At Lille we had a team that had good ball control, we had players who could technically make the difference but the physical level it is helping me a lot, especially with the repeated effort both in attack and in defence. There is no let up. “I am still getting better in this area and want to get the best out of this season in terms of physical endurance, avoid injuries and arrive on form next summer.
“The English championship is helping me a lot and I am happy about that.”
Meanwhile, Fabricio Coloccini has urged his team-mates to maintain the concentration that saw them beat Norwich City at the weekend.
The Magpies went into the game on the back of consecutive wins over Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. In October they drew with Liverpool despite playing half the game with ten men, and took Manchester City to extra-time in the League Cup.
But having also lost to Hull City and Sunderland, Newcastle have shown themselves to be vulnerable to the teams they ought to beat more easily.
“Sometimes we have not done well against the teams who are down near the bottom of the table,” captain Coloccini noted.
“Maybe we have thought it was going to be easy. That is dangerous.
“Against the big teams your motivation and concentration are always high, but we need to be at the same level.
“We have shown we can compete with the best teams in the Premier League, but now it is up to us to keep our performances at that level. We all want the same, Newcastle to be playing well and back in the top ten.”
Saturday’s visit of West Bromwich Albion, for a televised evening kick-off, is another game the Magpies will go into as favourites. The Baggies’ only win in their last six matches has come at home to relegation-threatened Crystal Palace.
Phil Dowd is due to take charge of the game.
The Staffordshire official, who controversially failed to send Kevin Mirallas off in last week’s Merseyside derby, took charge of Newcastle’s goalless draw with West Ham United, and the 3-2 defeat at Everton this season.