NEWCASTLE United remain confident of signing left-back Neil Taylor, despite speculation they will be dragged into a legal dispute over the Swansea player.
Taylor’s arrival has long been anticipated, and there were reported sightings of him on Tyneside earlier this month.
But whereas the Magpies have successfully pushed through deals for Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux and Yohan Cabaye, Taylor’s is conspicuously dragging on.
Despite talk of an attempt by Everton to hijack the deal, it was thought the Swansea directors’ holiday plans were the main reason for the delay. But yesterday one national newspaper claimed the sticking point was an argument over his contract.
Attempts by The Journal to clarify the matter with Newcastle’s hierarchy were unsuccessful.
Taylor had a £1m clause in his contract, but the alleged dispute centres around what exactly it was for. The Magpies understood if any club produced that fee, the Swans would be powerless to stop Taylor joining them. However, Swansea are now said to be arguing that it allows would-be suitors only to speak to him.
The dispute mirrors that over Phil Jones’ £16.5m move from Blackburn Rovers to Manchester United earlier this month. That it went through despite his home club’s objections will encourage Newcastle, if indeed Swansea do use that argument.
Meanwhile, the agent of Toulouse’s Moussa Sissoko has claimed Newcastle are one of a host of clubs interested in the £13.3m-rated midfielder. Regarded as a genuine “box-to-box” player, the 21-year-old greatly impressed in Ligue 1 last season, attracting the interest of its biggest club.
“The link with Lyon is serious, but it is not the only one,” stressed Sissoko’s representative Bacary Sanogo. “There are also negotiations with Liverpool, Newcastle and Inter. Things should seriously move next week.
“His priority is a club with a major sporting project. But it will not pose a problem to Moussa to remain with Toulouse.” Sissoko should have few problems fitting in at St James’ Park, where French is in danger of becoming the dressing room’s lingua franca, with Mehdi Abeid’s arrival set to be made official on July 1.
He joins fellow French speakers Cheick Tioté and Hatem Ben Arfa, who were signed last August.
The apparent interest of big-spending Liverpool in particular will concern the Magpies. Despite an impressive debut season on Merseyside, Portuguese Raul Meireles is expected to be one of the victims of a wide-scale revamp of the Reds’ squad.
Newcastle have also been linked with Darron Gibson, a potential alternative if they were to be squeezed out of the Sissoko bid.
Neighbours Sunderland had a bid for the Manchester United player accepted in early June, part of a three-man package also involving John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was the only one of the trio to go public with his enthusiasm for the move, and did so promptly. But nothing has happened since, nor is a deal thought to be imminent.
West Bromwich Albion have been credited with an interest in Steve Harper, but it seems unlikely to come to fruition.
The goalkeeping situation at St James’ Park is potentially in flux until pre-season gets under way. Then, manager Alan Pardew will assess Harper, Tim Krul and Fraser Forster to decide which of the trio will be his first-choice next season, who will be back-up, and who is to leave, either permanently or on loan.
Harper has been irritated by the question marks over his future, but that is the inevitable consequence.
Nevertheless, he is desperate to continue as Newcastle’s No 1, having been made to wait so long for his chance by the seemingly indestructible and consistently brilliant Shay Given.
Robert Green and Tomasz Kuszczak are also thought to be targets of the Hawthorns club, and both would seem more readily available and more willing to join than Harper.