Yohan Cabaye has described the Premier League as the world’s best, but the lure of competing for silverware caused him to leave it and Newcastle United in January.
Tonight, the France playmaker comes up against English opposition for the first time since leaving Tyneside.
He will line up for new club Paris Saint-Germain at home to Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, a competition Newcastle last played in just over 11 years ago.
Cabaye showed no regrets over his move to Newcastle, where he spent two-and-a-half trophyless seasons, but in an interview ahead of tonight’s game, he cited the opportunity to compete once more for silverware, and to play in club football’s premier competition as his motivation for the £19m move.
“I really liked playing in another league and discovering another culture,” Cabaye, a Ligue 1 winner with previous club Lille, told Uefa.com.
“Playing in the best league at the moment, it was a real discovery for me. I loved it, I enjoyed it a lot.
“The club, the supporters were great for me but when a club like Paris Saint-Germain wants you and does everything to have you, it’s difficult not to accept it. It allows me to come and play to win titles like the French league, we’re in the League Cup final and of course we’re still in the race for the Champions League.
“For a football player, these are very important decisions to make. I didn’t hesitate in coming here.”
As Newcastle’s most creative player and their second-highest goalscorer, Cabaye’s loss has been keenly felt. They have failed to score in seven out of 10 matches since his departure. Replacing Cabaye will be the top priority in Newcastle’s planning for next season, but it started in earnest with yesterday’s announcement they will play a pre-season tournament in Gelsenkirchen.
The Magpies have confirmed their involvement in the inaugural Schalke 04 Cup, which features Malaga, the hosts, Newcastle and one other side.
The games will take place on the weekend of August 2-3. Each side will play twice, with three points for the winner, and two points for coming out on top of a penalty shoot-out, which will be used if the sides draw. The club with the most points will win the tournament.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to play in such an excellent tournament,” manager Alan Pardew told his club’s official website. “We will be facing top-quality opposition and hopefully it will form part of a successful pre-season.
“I am very pleased it has been organised and announced early for the sake of our fans.
“This will give them the opportunity to travel in great numbers – as they always do – to enjoy a fabulous city and the football that will accompany it.” Contrary to expectations, winger Jonas Gutierrez is hoping to be part of Newcastle’s future plans.
The Argentinian was loaned to Norwich City for the second half of the season, but has not had the impact the Canaries were hoping for.
Gutierrez is closing in on 200 appearances for the club, triggering a substantial bonus payment the club do not appear willing to pay.
But the 30-year-old has not given up hope on returning to the club he joined from Mallorca when Kevin Keegan was manager in 2008. He tweeted: “Since I left Newcastle I read a lot of message from the fans supporting me.
“The only words I can say is thank you.
“Life, like football, is a wheel so (it can) change quickly. Maybe next year I (will be) back but anyway thanks for all you support.
“If life decides I don’t go back you are going to be always in my heart. Once a Geordie always a Geordie.”
Gutierrez has made two starts and a substitute appearance for Norwich.