NEWCASTLE United will make Mathieu Debuchy their first signing of what promises to be a busy January transfer window this week.
But with Demba Ba heading to Chelsea for discussions over a possible move to Stamford Bridge, they are making preparations for life after their top scorer as part of a much-needed recruitment drive to revive their flagging season.
With Mike Ashley making a sizeable transfer fund available, United intend to sign a centre-back, a striker and Debuchy in this window and expect Danny Simpson, whose £35,000-a-week wage demands have been rejected, and Ba to depart.
Despite the Ba talks, however, The Journal understands that a move to west London is by no means finalised and that the demands of his multiple agents could yet scupper the transfer.
One of his agents – the well-connected Barry Silkman – was in the capital last night to begin discussions over what promises to be a complicated and protracted transfer.
The same could be said about the deal to take Debuchy to St James’ Park, with the transfer apparently off as recently as last week.
United took decisive action on Saturday night, however, striking a deal worth around £6million to bring Yohan Cabaye’s close friend to Tyneside.
Debuchy is due in Newcastle on Wednesday and is likely to take in United’s match with Everton. Neither party expects personal terms to be a problem, with United preparing a five-year deal for the 27-year-old.
Newcastle will be delighted to get their man, having tracked the France right-back since Chris Hughton’s first season in the Premier League. Last summer they expected to bring Debuchy to Newcastle, only for Lille to raise their asking price to around £7million after the European Championships, at which he performed with eye-catching aplomb for France.
Eventually United walked away, but their interest remained and Cabaye’s close relationship with Debuchy has played a key part in making the deal happen.
Cabaye will certainly be heartened by the transfer, which is likely to help United stave off interest in the midfielder beyond
next summer – when negotiations on a new contract may begin with the ex-Lille man.
No other transfers for first-team players are imminent at St James’ Park but further discussions are set to take place after Saturday’s FA Cup match at Brighton, with United maintaining a strong interest in Loic Remy - their top January striker target.
They also want a centre-back, but have seemingly ruled out a move for FC Twente’s Douglas after his form slumped this season.
Mamadou Sakho, a player the club like, may also elude them this winter after he returned to the first-team at Paris Saint-Germain.
They will revisit interest in the summer.
Similarly, United’s interest in Mo Sissoko of Toulouse is unlikely to be followed up in January.
He remains a target, however, and that move could be re-ignited in the summer.