Note: Here at CHN we'll be striving to keep you apprised of any and all transfer news and rumors this offseason as we look forward to European football on Tyneside. We'll be highlighting a player linked to Newcastle (or, in some cases, Newcastle players linked elsewhere) each day, so make sure you come back and often to check out what's going on in the rumor mill. We'll be checking out Romain Amalfitano, Erik Pieters, and other familiar rumors soon enough, but I wanted to kick us off with a particularly exciting player, in my mind. If there's anybody in particular you'd like us to take a look at, let us know in the comments.
Transfer rumors in the early going of the off-season are hardly what you'd call earth-shattering. Everybody knows, for example, that Newcastle will need defensive help, and beyond that, that Danny Simpson has one foot out the door (Scott Wilson, The Northern Echo; h/t OSotP). Alan
Pardieu Pardew has a known affinity for French players (and Graham Carr is apparently very good at scouting that region) and Yohan Cabaye happens to be good friends with Mathieu Debuchy, his former teammate at Lille OSC. He even took the time in the intro to his website to name-check "Debuch," along with Lille players Eden Hazard and Rio Mavuba, as well as current teammates Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba. Mix it all together and you've got a ready-made transfer rumor. Any journalist interested in keeping his job (and this isn't a criticism; I'm all about job security) can read between the lines, slap together a story, and buy some time to do some real investigation on transfer dealings before the next deadline pops up. It would be easy to infer from a story like this (Sunderland Echo), for example, that Pardew and Carr are all in on Debuchy and may even be planning to make a bid tomorrow, but look at his actual quotes: Nowhere in there does Alan Pardew mention any player by name. I'm not saying that this rumor is totally bunk, but let's make sure we've donned our skeptics' hats before moving on.
Mathieu Debuchy is a 5'9" 26 year old (27 by the time the season gets going) right-footed right back. He has 3 international caps with the French senior team and will be competing in this summer's Euros. He was born in Fretin, less than 15 kilometers away from the stadium where he now plies his trade for Lille OSC (He signed as an 8 year old). He has appeared in 288 games for Les Dogues and is considered one of the best right backs in Ligue 1. Last season, he was an instrumental part in Lille's Ligue 1 title and Coupe de France victories. Debuchy is incredibly pacy and as a former midfielder, he has an eye for crossing and is very comfortable joining the attack. He's a lockdown defender who can close down wing players, and he's known for his excellent blocking abilities as well. He famously "damaged ligaments" in his knee in 2006, and his quick recovery time earned him the nickname "Le Bionic Man" amongst supporters.
If he were to land in Newcastle, he would be an instant upgrade over Danny Simpson, and that shouldn't be seen as a slight to Simpson. Simmo grabbed headlines for his many goal line stops this season, and his plaudits are deserved. However, he still has problems getting caught up the pitch and his defensive positioning has always been sort of suspect.
Depending on who you believe, Debuchy is also being chased by the likes of Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Valencia this summer and has a £6.5 million price tag, but this isn't the first time teams have coveted his services. It's quite humorous to click on a Debuchy highlight video and find a bunch of year-old "Welcome to Liverpool" comments. It's very easy to get caught up in transfer rumors and even start believing that players want to come be a part of your favorite team, and the Yohan Cabaye narrative makes it even easier for the Toon Army to dream. The reality is that this is a guy playing for his hometown team - one that won the title a year ago and will be playing in the Champions League next season. There's no real incentive for him to leave, unless you believe that a player's career is incomplete until he's played in England, and I'm not quite sure a French national will see things the same way. It's a nice fantasy, and I'm glad Alan Pardew and company reportedly have no problem taking interest in players that are supposedly above Newcastle's pedigree, but I'm afraid that at this point a fantasy is all this amounts to.
(Might want to mute this - relevant part starts at 0:43)