According to several reports, Newcastle United have agreed on a £6-7 million fee with Ligue 1 side Montpelier for the services of central defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Newcastle, along with several other clubs, had been chasing his signature since early in the summer.
No major news outlets have reported on the status of the negotiation between club and player, but several of the fringe online outlets are claiming that he's got a flight booked for the North East. Meanwhile, at least one says those reports are false. At this point it's probably best to proceed as if we know nothing, especially since you never know if Harry Redknapp is waiting in the wings.
CHN did a profile on Yanga-Mbiwa this summer. I'll not rehash the entire piece here, but the upshot is that he is by all accounts a solid defensive presence who is willing to play possession football. There's no question that MYM would be an upgrade over Mike Williamson, though Steven Taylor's presence on the bench on Saturday could make things interesting. Of course, it's entirely possible that Fabricio Coloccini is on his way to Argentina, meaning Taylor and Yanga-Mbiwa would become the preferred pairing.
There are a number of ways to view Saturday's 2-1 loss to fellow relegation candidate Reading, and the vast majority of them are negative. You never know how the low dressing room morale can affect players. Maybe Coloccini or Hatem Ben Arfa sees this as a chance to leave. Consider the other side, though: perhaps the threat of another year (or more) in the Championship is enough to scare Ashley into splashing the cash a bit. If he can take this opportunity to make Colo an offer he can't refuse and Mapou signs on the bottom line before another owner sits down to a game of FIFA with him, the squad will receive a huge boost. Center half has been the most glaring need by far, and this signing will go a long way toward filling that need.