NEWCASTLE United have completed the signing of Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa for an undisclosed fee – with three more French players set to join him.
Bordeaux striker Yoan Gouffran revealed on Twitter last night he was on the verge of a move to Tyneside, with Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissko and Nancy left-back Maassadio Haidara believed to be on their way.
Highly-rated Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel is also open to a move to Newcastle if a deal can be struck with Sporting Lisbon.
It was widely reported in the Portuguese press yesterday that Newcastle were favourites to land the £10million-rated player (pictured right) who turns 24 next week, although there is also interest from Tottenham, Liverpool and Cologne.
His agent Lous Laros, when contacted by The Journal last night, did not deny there had been interest in Wolfswinkel from St James’ Park – and vice versa.
There is clearly a lot more work to be done if – and it remains a big if – Wolfswinkel is to go anywhere; Sporting Lisbon would want top dollar for their main goalscorer who has bagged 34 goals from 65 games since moving from Erevidise in June 2011.
However, Laros said: “I won’t name specific clubs as that is a private matter, but what I will say is there is big interest in Ricky from England.
“I have passed on this information to Sporting and it is up to them to come to any agreement and then we could negotiate.
“Can something happen this month? In football, you just never know what might happen. We are laid-back about the situation.
“Ricky is like any player in that he is ambitious and the Premier League is a fantastic place. He is happy for the moment in Lisbon. There have been reports that he has requested a transfer, but that is not true.”
Asked specifically about Newcastle, Laros said: “I know the club well. I spoke to them a lot in the summer when they tried to buy Luuk de Jong, who is also our player. They are not in such a good position right now in the league, but that is a good club.”
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said after the home defeat by Reading he wanted three new signings before next week’s trip to Aston Villa – and is on his way to having that wish granted, and more.
French international centre-back Yanga-Mbiwa has put pen to paper on a five-and-a-half-year contract at St. James’ Park and will wear the number 13 shirt.
The 23-year-old said: “It is an honour to be able to come to Newcastle and have the chance to play in the Premier League.
“Newcastle are one of the biggest clubs in the league, and I’m going to try and give everything I have so that the team can do well.”
And Pardew added: “We needed to strengthen the team, bringing in Mapou will give the whole squad a boost.
“Mapou is a talented footballer, good in the air and on the ground and has all the attributes to succeed as a quality defender in the Premier League.
“He’s a good character too and that will be important for us over the next few months.”
His signature does not necessarily mean captain Fabricio Coloccini leaving before the window shuts, at least according to the player’s father Osvaldo, who revealed Newcastle were playing hardball in terms of the defender staying until the end of this season.
Yanga-Mbiwa, a legend at the current French champions, played his 219th and final game for Montpellier against Marseille at the weekend.
In a farewell interview on the club’s website, the player was asked if this move to the Premier League was a dream. Yanga-Mbiwa said: “Yes, and I will tackle a mountain. This is something I was expecting, I wanted. This is a country (England) where everybody loves football, everybody lives for football, and everyone wants to play football.
“I want to experience this culture. It’s like discovering the Champions League or winning the Championship, it’s part of the things we want to discover as a player.”
Yanga-Mbiwa spoke of the difficulty of saying goodbye to his team-mates with whom he shared last season’s title win, the first for the club.
He said: “I have given everything to the club. I always played at a maximum. It was difficult to speak to my team-mates. I do not like to see people moved or tears, it makes me uncomfortable. So I told them individually that I was leaving. It is weird to say that it’s over.”
France Under-21 international Haidara also looks to be on his way to the North East this week for a fee of £3m.
Nancy revealed on their website yesterday: “After 46 games and two-and-a-half years in the Nancy shirt, Maassadio Haidara is leaving his former club for Newcastle United. The two clubs have reached an agreement.”
Gouffran, 25, is set to cost Newcastle around £1.5m and revealed on Twitter last night that he would sign today, adding: “Tomorrow I will be a new player of Newcastle and I am proud.”
The deal for Sissoko is complicated as Toulouse don’t want him to leave until the summer, when he will be available for nothing, but they have left him out of tonight’s cup match against PSG.
The move hints that the club may well accept a fee now from Newcastle for a player who wants to leave.
Toulouse president Olivier Sadran said: “Sissoko has three choices: extend his contract with Toulouse, leave this winter or stay on the bench until June.”