NEWCASTLE United skipper Fabricio Coloccini has urged the club to ward off the Champions League vultures and hang on to their star names for their tilt at European glory next term.
United are braced for interest in the key men who played such an important part in their fifth-placed finish, with senior sources privately acknowledging that at least one might be spirited away for the right price.
Whether those offers materialise or not is another matter – although Newcastle’s excellent campaign did not go unnoticed in the boardrooms of clubs with Champions League football to offer. Manchester City’s influential football development executive Patrick Vieira is understood to have taken a keen interest in the progress of Newcastle’s scoring sensation Papiss Cissé, while the European Championships could be another complication if United’s internationals Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa perform well.
Coloccini is desperate for there to be no high-profile departures though, warning the United hierarchy that they must keep hold of the “spine” of the team that lifted them into fifth in the Premier League. In addition to that, he is hoping to see significant reinforcements join the club to help bolster them as they attack the season on four fronts.
“Of course I would like the team to stay together,” he told The Journal. “I think the most important thing is to keep the spine of this team together, then hopefully we will bring in some players to help us.
“It is very important that we keep that backbone for Europe next season. And of course having some new players would be very welcome.”
If speculation is bound to surround Newcastle’s bigger names, at least it will not be buzzing around Coloccini himself this summer.
The defender signed a long-term contract at the turn of the year which means he will probably end his top-level career at St James’ Park – and also means any potential suitors would have to pay through the nose to lure him.
Naturally, the defender says he has absolutely no intention of leaving Tyneside this summer.
“There is always speculation in the summer but it will be nice for it not to be about me this time,” he said.
“It happens when the transfer window is open. Sometimes because there is no football to talk about, people just want to talk about transfers when there is nothing there. It is football, it happens but I
have always said I’m happy at Newcastle United.”
That will come as good news to his manager Alan Pardew, who compared his defender to Bobby Moore in an extensive interview with London’s Evening Standard newspaper.
In an intriguing insight into the admiration Pardew has for the defender, he praised his “winning mentality”.
“He is our most influential player. A classy footballer, he brings calmness, a winning mentality and a sense of order to all proceedings. He reads the game well,” the United boss said.
“You can’t coach it. He might see that my left-back is in big trouble with a wide player and he’ll move closer to that area. He’ll look to read situations before they evolve.
“Bobby Moore was probably the greatest at it but Coloccini does that for us brilliantly. Before it happens he’s extinguished it.”