LILLE last night cleared the way for Newcastle United to complete their long-awaited move for Mathieu Debuchy after they signed a replacement for their star defender.
The French club’s position all summer has been that they would not allow the £6millon-rated right back to leave under any circumstances, unless they had someone who could immediately step into his place in the team.
Yesterday, things took a turn in Newcastle’s favour when Lille announced they had completed a deal for Troyes defender Djibril Sidibe, a similar type of player to Debuchy, who Alan Pardew has been tracking since before the end of last season in his hunt for a quality right-back.
Reports in France also suggested the 26-year-old failed to turn up for pre-season training with Lille at the weekend, although the club have played down the significance of his absence, which some believed was a sure sign he was at long last Tyneside-bound.
Debuchy, who also attracted interest from Inter Milan, turned down the offer a new contract by Lille and made it clear he wanted to speak with Newcastle and fulfil an ambition of playing in the Premier League.
The Magpies first tested Lille’s resolve with a £4million offer, only to see the player’s value rise by 50% following his impressive displays during the European Championships.
But that request was denied by Lille, who do not need to sell anyone – even for an inflated price – after banking £32m from Eden Hazard’s move to Chelsea.
However, now Debuchy’s replacement Sidibe has arrived, the France international will surely be given permission to talk terms with St James’ Park bosses.
Newcastle were also yesterday linked with Marseille star Loïc Remy, a 25-year-old striker who would cost around £10million.
Tottenham were known to be in the hunt for the player when Harry Redknapp was still manager. His current deal with Marseille runs out next July, although his club would still want top dollar for the international if he were to leave this summer.
French media claimed Newcastle had made an undisclosed bid for the
17-times-capped Remy, who won two domestic titles with Lyon, although he has been quoted as saying he would prefer a move to Italy.
Debuchy is much safer bet and if his move is finalised, it would probably mean Danny Simpson leaving with a number of clubs interested in the full-back.
This latest development will please Pardew, who admitted on Sunday that “no real progress” had taken place with regards to any deals being done.
Newcastle fans has began to lose just a little patience as the Magpies have failed to make a significant move in the transfer market during this window, despite being far from idle over the close season.
Gael Bigirimana and Romain Amalfitano arrived from Coventry City and Reims respectively, but neither would expect to be first-team players right away, certainly in the Premier League.
Newcastle were also priced out of signing Luuk de Jong from FC Twente and then, of course, there is the Andy Carroll saga.
The prospect of a return to his first club for the England target man, which reared its head for the first time last week, is nowhere close to being resolved, although there is still a chance the Toon Army will see their former hero back in the black-and-white jersey again.
CELTIC goalkeeper Fraser Forster admits they will be under pressure to perform as their pre-season campaign arrives at Parkhead.
Celtic host Norwich tonight after an indifferent run of performances in Germany and Holland.
Neil Lennon’s men have failed to score in three of their four friendlies, with a 4-0 defeat by Ajax on Saturday proving a concern ahead of next week’s first Champions League qualifier, which will almost certainly come against HJK Helsinki.
Celtic lost 2-0 to Norwich at Carrow Road in May in a testimonial for Adam Drury and former Newcastle keeper Forster knows his former club will provide a stiff test.
“It will be a good game for us to play in and it will be a good test,” he said.
“We want to hit the ground running at Celtic Park, but Norwich had a fantastic season last year and they will want to recreate that.
“It will be important we turn up and play because it will be a tough game.
“We saw that in the testimonial. Even though it was only a friendly, they´ve still got some very good players.
“I’m sure Chris Hughton will have got them all going and it’s important for them to start the season well.
“I think there will be a bit of pressure on us playing at home too, so we will have to go out and play well.”