Yohan Cabaye has told Newcastle United that he wants to join Paris Saint-Germain before the end of the January transfer window.
Although not an entirely unexpected development it still constitutes a major blow for Newcastle, who want the transfer saga resolved in the next 48 hours so they can put their contingency plans into place.
The Journal understands the Ligue 1 champions had an increased offer rejected yesterday but are expected to table further bids in the next few days. A delegation has flown in from Paris and Newcastle have told the French club they do not want the saga to drag into the final day of the transfer window.
Cabaye was due to travel with the squad to Norwich tonight and there have been assurances from the player and his representatives that he will not replicate his actions back in August, when he made himself unavailable to play in the wake of interest from Arsenal. He has not put a transfer request in and will play on if no deal can be struck.
But it feels like there is an element of inevitability about Cabaye’s departure before Friday’s deadline – provided Paris Saint-Germain meet Newcastle’s valuation, which is understood to be in excess of £25million.
United’s contingency plan is understood to involve Lyon’s France international Clement Grenier and – eventually – Remy Cabella of Montpellier. The winger, who has been heavily linked with Newcastle this month, will not be moving to St James’ Park in January.
One player United do expect to sign is Luuk de Jong, the Borussia Monchengladbach forward who has been a long-term target.
He will join on loan with a view to a permanent move – with the player scheduled to jet into the North East tomorrow if Newcastle can agree the exact terms by which he would convert the loan.
Pardew admitted yesterday that he could not guarantee Cabaye would be here after January 31 – but said Mike Ashley was reluctant to let him go. In the end, it is the player’s desire to play in the Champions League that has driven him to voice his desire to leave Tyneside.
Cabaye would be eligible to play in the Champions League quarter-finals if he joined the French side.
He said: “All through the last week he’s been terrific. To be honest, there was a bit of Paris Saint-Germain interest before the West Ham game, so we knew there was interest there, but he was terrific. All I can say is that I don’t think Mike wants him to go.
“I always think that if you’re going to bring players to a club like this and you’re saying to them that you want to break into Champions League football... you will attract better players like that, but you’re more likely to lose them if you’re not in the Champions League.
“We’re probably one of the few clubs in the Premier League who can attract that calibre of players and find ourselves in that position. That’s probably why we seem to get affected more than others. If we had won two more between Christmas and the end of January, then maybe I could have argued that we have a realistic chance of the Champions League, but I think it’s difficult to look a player in the eye and say we have a realistic chance of Champions League football when the bigger teams have all kept winning.
“There’s kind of a split now and we’re probably just on the bottom of that split. We need to try and get closer to it and give ourselves an argument.”
There was a word of caution for Cabaye too, with Pardew warning the player he might not get the same front-line role in Paris.
“I do think that the team, the coaching staff and myself have got him into a great position because we have given him a different role this season. I think that has boosted his profile and his valuation, therefore will he get that role at a different club? I don’t know.”
Thoughts have also turned to trying to secure a replacement in time for the Sunderland game. Newcastle have not made a single bid yet – although they will if Cabaye goes.
Pardew said: “I’d be foolish if I didn’t have a plan to deal with him going. We have. But until such time that a deal is agreed, we can’t put a bid of our own in. So at the moment, we don’t actually know whether that club is willing to sell. You hear that they might be and that a certain player might be available, but we’re getting near the end of the window now and we have to be very careful.
“The timing is very unfortunate. It was the same against Man City at the start of the season although when you look at them at home now maybe we didn’t do so badly on the night! The biggest concern for me is losing the player first, and the second biggest concern is that I have the derby on Saturday.
“The timing of that is significantly bad if he was to leave. If he was to stay, it could be great timing.”