NEWCASTLE UNITED'S pre-season sprang to life yesterday when two of their biggest stars pledged their futures to the club - and one signing target revealed he could be on his way to St James' Park.
Scoring sensation Papiss Cissé insisted he wanted to remain on Tyneside for “many years” despite being linked with a big-money move away from Tyneside after scoring 13 goals in 14 Premier League games.
French midfield maestro Yohan Cabaye, who is set to face England next Monday in the European Championships, has also reiterated his desire to stay, which will reassure United supporters who are desperate to see their team build on last season’s fifth-place finish.
And FC Twente defender Douglas, a long-time target of Alan Pardew, admitted he would consider a move to Newcastle.
Fans’ hero Cissé has been nothing short of a revelation since his £9m move from SC Freiburg in Germany. Newcastle fans fear the 27-year-old being lured away, particularly if the club was offered a transfer fee in the Andy Carroll territory – with Manchester United believed to be monitoring the situation.
But Cisse said: “I am very happy in Newcastle and I want to stay there for many years.
“We were close to a Champions League position so next season, hopefully, we will qualify for that and everyone will taste the Champions League. I am looking forward to next season.
“I’m going to go on holiday and come back stronger because I know that another big season lies ahead.”
Cabaye, a summer signing from Lille 12 months ago, was another superb find by Newcastle’s scouting system.
Several clubs have been linked with the midfielder, although it must be said that Newcastle manager Pardew did predict such speculation about his best players was unavoidable, but was confident of them staying.
Cabaye said: “There are rumours, which I am following a little. But I have four years remaining on my contract with Newcastle. Today I don’t want to know anything. That is what agents are for. At Newcastle we will play in the Europa League.
“The atmosphere is already huge at St James’ Park with us in the Premier League and it seems stronger now we’re in Europe.
“When I came to England, I had to start again from scratch. “They hardly knew me. Some players did not even know I was a French champion.
“So I questioned myself, getting to the heart of the matter as quickly as possible. At Newcastle, I had to go and get it. The fight has been permanent.
“Security would have been remaining at Lille, but at that moment I didn’t think about it. I went to Newcastle to have success.”
Pardew would like three new faces to come in who he would consider to be first-team players, unlike French midfielder Romain Amalfitano, who was added this month primarily as a squad player.
Brazilian Douglas, a centre-half, has been with Dutch side Twente since 2007 and is now ready for a move away from Holland, with the 24-year-old happy to admit that Newcastle, plus one other big club, are leading candidates for his signature.
Although, rather mischievously, he would not name his other apparent suitor. Douglas said: “I have spent five years [at Twente] and have done my best for the club. I have won the title, the cup – it’s time for a next step.”
“Five clubs are interested and there’s a bigger club than Newcastle. I cannot still say anything about it, but I hope soon to have my new club.”
“I have personally been in touch with Ajax and immediately said that I’m not interested, I want to go abroad as I have outgrown the league.
“I noticed this year that I am sometimes a little too easy going down, then you make mistakes. I want to be tested every week.”