Newcastle United only have strikers on their radar

NEWCASTLE United have called time on moves to strengthen their defence or midfield ahead of Friday's transfer deadline.

Former Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll
Former Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll

NEWCASTLE United have called time on moves to strengthen their defence or midfield ahead of Friday's transfer deadline.

And the club believe they have done enough to protect their blue-chip players from unwanted approaches.

With three days of the transfer window remaining, the only move still on the agenda at St James’ Park appears to be for a striker, and England international Andy Carroll is still right at the top of the Newcastle wish-list.

Unless Lille relent on their required fee, a fresh move for France right-back Mathieu Debuchy has been ruled out by the United hierarchy, and they have also decided not to follow up an initial enquiry for Ajax’s Gregory van der Wiel after being put off by the player’s wage demands.

That means United’s squad is likely to remain almost entirely unchanged for the rest of the calendar year – a development that puts added pressure on the squad’s fringe men to find an extra gear to support the club’s lofty aims for the season.

Newcastle may yet land one of their biggest targets but a move for £15m-rated Carroll depends on Liverpool blinking first in the game of brinkmanship between the two clubs.

For his part, the player seems to want to return and is likely to accept a wage cut to make it happen – but only if Brendan Rodgers bites the bullet and sanctions the sale.

Elsewhere, Newcastle anticipate a quiet week with no moves in the pipeline and no formal bids either for Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tioté or Fabricio Coloccini – the three players who have attracted the most interest.

United would want well in excess of £20million for all three and that has scared off Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham, who are now looking abroad for midfield reinforcements.

Whether that will be enough to convince Alan Pardew and Newcastle’s supporters that they have enough to replicate last season’s fifth-placed finish, while also attacking their European campaign, is another matter.

United were expected to sign a right-back but will now persevere with Danny Simpson despite the ongoing impasse in his contract negotiations.

Simpson has impressed Newcastle’s coaching staff with his professionalism despite the speculation surrounding his future, but whether that is enough to encourage fresh contract talks is a different matter.

There will be a measure of disappointment, too, that Mike Ashley hasn’t supplied the cash to broker a deal for top target Debuchy.

The full-back expressed his desire to move to England several times and maintained regular contact with former Lille team-mate Cabaye.

In the end the decision passed down from the top was that at 27, Debuchy would not have enough sell-on value to justify a fee in excess of £5m – which Lille demanded.

There were fresh discussions about FC Twente defender Douglas over the past fortnight but with Steven Taylor and Coloccini set to be United’s first-choice partnership, that is another move mothballed.

Indeed, the current plan is for club secretary Lee Charnley and managing director Derek Llambias to be in Monaco for the Europa League draw on Friday – provided the team make progress past stubborn Greek opponents Atromitos, of course.

That has to be the priority for Pardew, who will address the media today ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League second leg at St James’ Park.

He said yesterday that progress in the competition – added to a defeat of Aston Villa on Sunday – would constitute a very successful first week of the season.

“We have now got to try to squeeze past Atromitos and then beat Aston Villa,” he said. “That for me would be a great start.

“It really would be, but we’ve still got the two games to win. That’s what we all have to stay focused on.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer