MODIBO Maïga will undergo a Newcastle United medical today as he moves a step closer to completing his January switch to St James’ Park.
The Journal understands the medical is taking place in London with Newcastle’s club doctor and, although the Sochaux striker has been sparingly involved with the Ligue 1 side of late, it is expected to pass without any hitches.
Paris, where the club were hoping to tie up a deal in August, is the alternative venue for the procedure – which would be a huge step towards confirming a deal that has been in the pipeline for several weeks.
A fee and terms have been agreed with Sochaux and Maïga will then only require a work visa before the deal can be wrapped up – with a possible announcement as soon as the January transfer window opens.
The deal is understood to be worth around £6million, and part of the reason for Maïga’s limited involvement with Sochaux appears to be that advanced talks have been going on behind the scenes for several months.
Alan Pardew will be delighted to see another striker come through the door, but Maïga will be away with Mali for the start of the African Nations Cup in January. Even though Mali’s qualification for the tournament was not assured when United made a breakthrough with Sochaux, he is so well thought of at St James’ Park that the club are prepared to make that concession for a player who possesses the one thing Newcastle crave – pace.
Primarily left-footed, Maïga is tall and wiry and seen as a good foil for their crop of taller hit-men like Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi.
Again, the club believe he will be able to hit the ground running like Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tioté.
The 25-year-old came on as a half-time substitute during Saturday’s 1-0 reverse against Paris-Saint Germain – his first appearance since November 20. He has scored four goals so far this season, despite falling foul of Sochaux’s supporters and picking up an injury earlier in the campaign.
With one new player through the door, the club will re-focus their efforts on trying to lure a centre-back in January.
Although Pardew would ideally like two defenders to join in January there is no appetite in the boardroom for extensive spending above the budget – which means recruiting a second centre-half remains very much in the balance.
In an indication of the difficulties the club might face sifting through viable targets in January, The Journal understands that over 50 names were put to the club as soon as it became clear that Steven Taylor’s injury was serious. Versatile PSV Eindhoven defender Erik Pieters is a priority target.
Meanwhile, a source close to Tioté has told The Journal the midfielder has “no intention” of quitting St James’ Park next month, despite mounting speculation surrounding his future.
Weekend stories again linked Tioté with long-term suitors Chelsea, while Tottenham and Manchester United have also watched the Newcastle midfielder, but the player is said to be “very happy” at St James’ Park.
Of course the same was said of Andy Carroll before he completed his move to Liverpool, but the Tioté camp is emphasising that no discussions have taken place with any other club and the African has stated both publicly and privately that he has no intention of moving on.
He has just moved house and is understood to be grateful to United for the way he has been treated since moving from FC Twente 18 months ago.
After an absence of nearly two months, Pardew hopes to have Tioté fit for the weekend clash with Swansea. The United manager said: “Tioté is a possibility, and that’ll be a big lift.”
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