Steven Taylor has been assured he is part of Newcastle United’s long-term plans despite talk of him being used as a makeweight for Loic Remy.
Manager Alan Pardew confirmed to The Journal last week he is interested in signing striker Remy from Queens Park Rangers – but he is not prepared to sacrifice centre-back Taylor to facilitate a deal.
Taylor is aware of QPR’s interest but his manager has assured him privately he does not want to lose the 27-year-old, who could start next season as the club’s longest-serving player.
Taylor’s position at St James’ Park is less secure than it was last year. In January it looked as if captain Fabricio Coloccini was going to engineer a move to Argentina for personal reasons.
But Pardew refused to let Coloccini leave for a cut price, putting him out of the reach of his local club, San Lorenzo. Coloccini has now reconciled himself to honouring his contract on Tyneside.
While Coloccini’s future was in question, the Magpies signed Mapou Yanaga-Mbiwa to bolster numbers at the heart of the defence. With the versatile James Perch having joined Wigan Athletic, Newcastle have less cover at centre-back than they ended last season with, and Pardew is not prepared to return to a situation where he only has three senior central defenders.
While Taylor and Yanga-Mbiwa will compete to partner Coloccini, they showed at the end of last season all three can play together when Yanga-Mbiwa filled in impressively at left-back.
Taylor brings more to the club than simply his defensive abilities. Newcastle have already lost Perch and Steve Harper this summer. Dan Gosling is set to join Premier League new-boys Crystal Palace and it is common knowledge that Shola Ameobi – now the only player to have joined before Taylor – could also leave.
All four can be considered English (though Ameobi plays for Nigeria, the country of his birth), and Harper and Ameobi were brought up on Tyneside steeped in the traditions of the club. The same is true of Taylor, born in Greenwich but raised in Whitley Bay, who has progressed from season ticket-holder to academy player to first-teamer.
The squad is starting to look distinctly light on Premier League experience, which is one reason Pardew is also targeting Aston Villa striker Darren Bent.
Remy has limited top-flight experience, having made 14 appearances for QPR last term, scoring six times. He rejected Newcastle’s advances to join but that has not deterred Pardew. He has shown many times in the past he is prepared to go back in for players the club tried and failed to sign in previous transfer windows. Christopher Samba’s money-back ï¿½12m move to Anzhi Makhachkala means QPR could maybe afford to keep Remy, and also leaves them in need of a central defender.
But Newcastle will realise it is extremely difficult to keep a highly-rated player who wants to move elsewhere, a situation they could well find themselves in with PSG target Yohan Cabaye, and will hope Remy is not thrilled by the prospect of Championship football.
Meanwhile, club sources have rubbished reports Papiss Cisse is being forced to train alone until he resolves his dispute over the club’s new sponsors. Along with Cabaye and the other players on international duty last month, Cisse only reported back for pre-season training on Friday and while he did not train with the group, it was because he was in meetings about the controversial Wonga deal.
As a practising Muslim, Cisse is uncomfortable wearing the pay-day lender’s logo, despite having raised no such complaints about Virgin Money last season, and fellow Muslim Hatem Ben Arfa having been photographed training in branded kit. Sharia Law prohibits charging interest on loans.
Newcastle need the matter resolving quickly. Given his late return, Cisse might not be expected to feature in tomorrow’s friendly at Motherwell, but the players will wear Wonga-branded kit on their tour of Portugal with games on Saturday and a week on Tuesday.