NEWCASTLE United are ready to step up their efforts in Holland to recruit the next Moussa Sissoko.
Having successfully raided the French market to bring in five new stars in the January window, Newcastle’s efforts now appear to be trained on Holland – with the club understood to be monitoring a clutch of emerging Dutch stars with a view to summer recruitment.
United scouts watched the Dutch Under-21 team take on their Republic of Ireland counterparts yesterday and The Journal understands that Newcastle were represented at Eredivisie games over the weekend, with fixtures featuring Vitesse Arnhem, PSV Eindhoven, Zwolle and AZ Alkmaar all monitored.
United have enjoyed success in the market recently, having lured Ajax’s Vurnon Anita to St James’ Park – and they also made an unsuccessful attempt to sign Jody Lukoki from Amsterdam in January. But now they are ready to make a concerted effort to add to their burgeoning Dutch contingent, which also features first-team goalkeeper Tim Krul.
It appears they will return to the country in the summer with The Journal aware that exciting forward Siem de Jong (pictured below) is another of the club’s targets. That would be a sensational coup given the profile that he gained during Ajax’s Champions League run, but United insiders have been laying similar groundwork in Holland to that which has enabled them to attract the cream of the talent Ligue 1 has to offer.
So far, Newcastle’s exhaustive attempts to cover the French market have attracted the most comment, with the club having reaped spectacular rewards in January with Yoan Gouffran, Sissoko, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haïdara having been recruited along with Mathieu Debuchy.
Meanwhile, United have no intention of allowing Liverpool to snatch Hatem Ben Arfa this summer – despite a clutch of Anfield links to the France
schemer. Well-briefed claims emanated from Merseyside yesterday morning that Ben Arfa will be one of Brendan Rodgers’ top targets in the summer, even using Andy Carroll as a potential makeweight in the deal.
But United are in no mood to do a deal on one of their star players – and if they do decide to reignite their interest in Carroll, it will be for cash up front.
Closer to home, Alan Pardew has major selection dilemmas ahead of the weekend trip to Tottenham.
Cheick Tioté returned to training yesterday and has put himself into contention for White Hart Lane – possibly in place of James Perch. But Pardew has already shown that he is a loyal manager, having stuck by Jonás Gutiérrez – who rewarded him with a fabulous headed goal on Saturday.
“Jonás answered a few critics – I thought he was fabulous against Chelsea. Everybody gets a lift when you bring new players in, and I think Jonás is an example of that,” he said.
“He’s a good player, but he’s been running on empty and lacking a bit of confidence and belief because the team hasn’t been strong enough.
“It’s disappointing for players like him.
“Sometimes when you bring new players in, it’s only right that you give him a chance and say ‘come on then, we’ve got a proper team now – come and show your true form’.
“He did that, and I’m pleased for him. I’m very proud of him.”