Newcastle United hope to push through a loan move for striker Luuk de Jong in time to hand him a debut at Norwich a week today.
Despite claims from across the Channel of an agreement being reached for long-term United target Remy Cabella, The Journal understands that De Jong remains the priority target and their attention will be focused on clinching a deal for the Borussia Monchengladbach forward in the next seven days.
Terms have been agreed for the switch but the German club – who want to secure a replacement before allowing him to leave – are looking for more assurances from Newcastle before sanctioning the deal. Those hurdles should be cleared in the next seven days, which would provide United boss Alan Pardew with a timely boost ahead of a run of fixtures that could define the Magpies’ campaign.
But as Newcastle look to make progress on the De Jong front this week, they have yet to table a formal offer for Montpellier’s talented playmaker Cabella.
That is despite claims in France that a deal has been agreed which would see Cabella join Newcastle in the summer – perhaps with a view to replacing Yohan Cabaye.
United have a long-term interest in Cabella, who is rated at around £12.3million by the Ligue 1 club, but believe that the latest round of quotes from France represent Montpellier trying to drum up interest in their star asset.
Responding to weekend reports that Newcastle were set to strike a deal for the player this month, Montpellier’s president Laurent Nicollin was quoted saying it was “certain” that he would remain in France until the close season. He later issued a clarification, saying he was happy to discuss a deal in the summer.
As Newcastle look to bring in recruits there was a fresh round of speculation surrounding the future of Cabaye, who jetted out with the rest of the squad on the club’s sunshine break in Abu Dhabi.
He was heavily linked with Paris Saint Germain over the weekend but The Journal understands that there has been no contact from the French side. Even so, Newcastle are aware that their star asset will attract interest and have drawn up a list of alternative options if the France schemer does leave.
“It would be good to recruit a player in the heart of the game, to have an extra player in midfield,” he said. “We need a player who has the same mentality as the others when they are playing or on the bench. He must love to play.
“He must be technically good and be tough, and whether this player comes or does not come, there will be competition in all positions.
“I’ve been saying for a month and a half – and the injury to Adrien makes it more urgent – that we need an extra player in midfield.”
Blanc was then quizzed on Cabaye specifically. He said: “I ask myself. I know the man. He has that character, but there are others.
“We are very happy with this team, but with all the competitions in which we are engaged we must be aware there will be issues, as we have seen with Adrien Rabiot.”
Meanwhile, Pardew headed for the club’s sunshine break having pin-pointed extra training ground time as the main reason for their away-day improvement. Saturday was United’s sixth away win of the campaign. He said: “The difference is I know I keep banging on about it is that with the squad that we have, the size of the squad, it is working the first team.
“We had no Europa League last week obviously and you get that little extra rest and you get that extra work on the training ground.
“We really focused on our three midfield players this week to dominate that area and I thought that came through, we were terrific in the first half particularly.”