With the departure of Yohan Cabaye for a reported £19 million to Paris Saint Germain Newcastle must now be considered a selling club.
The optimism from the club's 1-0 win at Old Trafford in which Cabaye scored and early season form has worn off, and six defeats in a row in all competitions at the turn of the year has put a dent in what had been a promising campaign for the Magpies. The departure of Cabaye will leave an all too familiar sour taste in the mouthes of fans.
Cabaye arrived on Tyneside for just £4.5 million in 2011 and the deal could be seen as good business for Newcastle having made a tidy profit on a player who at 28 will only see his value diminish in the coming years. However it is not.
Cabaye has been a consistent and high quality performer for the Magpies in the two and a half seasons he has been at the club, scoring 17 goals and assisting 13 in his 69 Premier League appearances. On top of this the French international added real class in the centre of midfield and has a tackle success rate of 75 percent suggesting that he is more than just an elegant ball player.
This season Cabaye had already netted seven times in 19 leagues games and along with Loic Remy (who is on loan form QPR until May) has been Newcastle's standout performer.
Of course when considering Cabaye's transfer we must not ignore the desire of the player to leave. As a Frenchman Cabaye would surely relish the chance to play at PSG in the capital of his home country. All this is before mentioning the regular Champions League football and the opportunity to play alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. You cannot argue with Cabaye's decision to leave but you can argue with Newcastle willingness to allow him to do so.
The writing was on the wall as soon as Alan Pardew stated in his press conference on Monday when quizzed on Cabaye's future: "No, I'm not confident, and I don't think any team not in a Champions League position or fighting for a Champions League position could be".
Pardew than went on to say: "We know we have got a club interested in Cabaye, a very wealthy club and a powerful club, and we are conscious of that" the whole conference had the tone of at the right price he is yours.
Pardew bemoans the fact that he cannot offer Champions League football as an excuse for Cabaye's departure, but this is simply not good enough. Teams do not get to the top of European football by selling their best players. And if the club want to show ambition they should have made Cabaye stay until at least the end of the season.
The transfer itself has been fairly straightforward and this has led many fans to once again question the intentions of Mike Ashley and Newcastle's former manager and recent new addition as director of football development Joe Kinnear. The fans will say the club is being run as a business rather than a football team that is capable of winning it first major trophy since the 1955 FA Cup.
Obviously Newcastle cannot compete with the wealth of Europe's top clubs but the willingness to sell is worrying. Holding onto Cabaye would have sent a message that Newcastle is a side on the up who want to keep their best players.
Despite the £19 million made from the transfer of Cabaye it seems unlikely that Newcastle will find the players to fill the void he leaves behind before the January transfer window slams shut. So far only Luuk De Jong has arrived on loan in this window. With the club going out of both domestic cups early on, Newcastle supporters have little to get excited about in the final months of the season.
The Tyneside club have of course experienced the loss of a key player in January before, but at a hugely overpriced £35 million it was hard to argue with the sale of Andy Carroll. Newcastle went on to find themselves in a relegation battle that season. With 36 points accumulated already Newcastle will be fine but a failure to reinvest in quality in the summer may lead to a squad lacking the ability to push on in the league.
With the sale of Cabaye concern must also turn to Newcastle's other star performers. With the club developing an apparent selling identity it is not out of the question that other big names such as Hatem Ben Arfa could leave in the summer. Tim Krul has been outstanding between the sticks for the magpies and speculation linking him with a move to Borussia Monchengladbach and AC Milan will concern fans.
Only time will tell if Newcastle will be able to replace Cabaye but it appears for now the fans will have to accept Mike Ashley's apparent willingness to sell star players.
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