LILLE president Michel Seydoux yesterday called off Newcastle United’s pursuit of Mathieu Debuchy, after tiring of one of the summer’s longest-running transfer sagas.
With Demba Ba’s future resolved, the Magpies were hoping to finally wrap up the signing of the 27-year-old right-back.
But reports in France suggested yesterday that not only has Newcastle’s second bid been rejected, but Lille have called negotiations off completely.
“I’ve decided Mathieu Debuchy will remain at Lille,” Seydoux is quoted as saying in respected French sports paper L’Equipe. “The offer from Newcastle is definitely not the value of the player.
“It would have taken the offer to be consistent and commensurate with its replacement. As the conditions are not met, it is my duty to make a decision.”
Whether the deal is actually dead, or whether Seydoux is simply trying to make Newcastle take their valuation of the player seriously remains to be seen. But Newcastle’s whole strategy of bidding low has been carried out in the knowledge that the 27-year-old is keen to join them.
The onus could now be on the player to agitate for a move, in the way Hatem Ben Arfa did when at Marseille. The playmaker apparently went on strike to engineer a move to St James’ Park.
Newcastle’s second bid was reportedly in the region of £6m, plus a percentage of any future transfer fee – up slightly from their opening offer. Initially it was thought Lille valued their player at £6.3m, but it may be an impressive Euro 2012, which drew Debuchy to the attention of clubs such as Inter Milan, has raised that. The Magpies’ interest was well-known before the European Championships kicked off, but their failure to close out a deal then may prove costly.
Debuchy is a close friend of Yohan Cabaye, who moved from Lille to St James’ Park last season.
He appears to have been sounded out about following Cabaye last season, and will probably appreciate Newcastle showing an interest before he shot to prominence at a major tournament.
Having extracted one bargain from Lille last summer, when they landed the cultured Cabaye for just £4.8m, Newcastle appear determined to repeat the feat. But the French club have also learned the lessons, and are determined to not to allow them to take another player on the cheap.
Another factor which delayed Newcastle making a second bid was uncertainty over the future of striker Demba Ba.
Ba has maintained all summer he is happy at St James’ Park but, with a release clause in his contract valuing him at around £7.5m – and various agents apparently touting him behind the scenes in order to secure themselves a pay day – Newcastle could not be 100% confident that last season’s top scorer would be back for another campaign. However, the clause could only be activated before July 31, and now that has been and gone the club can be far more confident.
In reality, Ba could still leave if he was in the mood to agitate for a transfer, but only at the prohibitive price Newcastle would demand.
So with the threat of having to replace a key centre-forward now gone, the right-back position has become the priority for manager Alan Pardew.
The £7.5m Newcastle could have received for Ba would go nowhere near the cost of replacing a player who scored 16 Premier League goals last season.
Newcastle’s attempts to tie Danny Simpson to a contract extension have proved fruitless, and with Reading and others showing an interest in the Mancunian, the Magpies will look to replace him, rather than lose him for free next summer.
They have already seen one player, Danny Guthrie, move to the Madejski Stadium without receiving a penny.
The Magpies will travel to Hartlepool United for a friendly at 7.30pm on Tuesday.
Their next warm-up match takes place at United goalkeeper Tim Krul’s old club Den Haag tomorrow.