Club Focus – Newcastle – Magpies continue French revolution

Newcastle have so far enjoyed a productive start in their building for the new season with the capture of three new players. The excitement over the new signings has been tempered slightly by the loss of influential captain Kevin Nolan to West Ham. Up until now there has been little in the way of transfer outplay with Nolan’s departure and Yohan Cabaye’s arrival effectively cancelling each other out, while the other two signings have both been free transfers. That could mean that £35 million is still available to acquire further talent although it remains to be seen how much of that sum will be reinvested.

The latest arrival at St James’ Park is French midfielder Sylvain Marveaux who has joined from Rennes. The 25-year-old joins an ever increasing French influx on Tyneside with a number of his countrymen now at the club. Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye are both full France internationals while striker Demba Ba was born in the country despite representing Senegal. Newcastle have spent much of the past season scouting across the Channel and nearly all of their transfer dealings have been in the Ligue 1 market. There appears to be little interest in investing in the domestic market where transfer fees tend to be over-inflated, especially with home-grown players.

The signing of Marveaux came as a surprise with Liverpool previously linked with the left-sided midfielder. He should bring increased options to the wide positions where he joins the likes of Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez. The biggest question mark over the player is his long-term fitness as Marveaux last played in November last year. However, as there is no transfer fee involved, Newcastle must feel that it is a risk worth taking.

The latest French-based talent to be linked with a move to the Magpies are Mevlut Erding and Blaise Matuidi. Erding has been a long-term target for Newcastle as they look to further strengthen their frontline. Matuidi is a 24-year-old midfielder who currently plies his trade in Ligue 1 for St Etienne. The two players share the same agent who did little to play down the speculation surrounding his clients. The agent Pierre Frelot told the Evening Chronicle: “Any player in France would love to come to Newcastle – they are an absolutely fantastic club. All the French lads who go to Newcastle are really enthusiastic about the club and the football public in the North East too. Newcastle has a place in the hearts of French football. Great players like Laurent Robert and David Ginola have played there and enjoyed it and the supporters loved them too.” Given Newcastle’s recruitment policy so far this summer it would not be a major surprise if two more French players move north.

There is also plenty of speculation linking players with a move away from Tyneside as Alan Pardew looks to out his own mark on the team. The likes of Steve Harper, Jonas Gutierrez, Joey Barton and Nile Ranger have all been rumoured to be on their way out. Another man likely to be departing before the start of the new season is Alan Smith. Newcastle are keen to move Smith off the wage bill as he is still one of the top earners at the club. The midfielder’s former club Leeds are interested in recruiting some of their former stars to aid their promotion bid. The Magpies are willing to let Smith leave on a free transfer although few clubs would be willing to pay his reported £55,000-a-week wages. That could mean Newcastle still having to pay a proportion of his wages if he is willing to drop down a division.

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