Newcastle United are bracing themselves for a bid for Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint-Germain and must decide whether to sell for around £20m or hold the France midfielder to his contract.
Laurent Blanc, the new PSG coach, holds Cabaye in high regard and sources in France suggest the PSG are preparing an offer which could be submitted as early as Monday. Although Monaco have also been tracking Cabaye, he forged a strong relationship with Blanc when the latter was France coach and offered the former Lille midfielder an important role in the national side.
Cabaye has three years remaining on his deal at St James' Park and is said to be a favourite of Mike Ashley, Newcastle's owner, but cashing in on the 27-year-old would help fund manager Alan Pardew's double £26m bid for the St Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the central defender Kurt Zouma. Moreover, there would also be cash left over to purchase other targets, including the Aston Villa forward Darren Bent.
After arriving on Tyneside from Lille for a fee believed to under £4m two summers ago, Cabaye excelled during his first season, helping Pardew's team to fifth place in the Premier League, while emerging as a powerful dressing room influence. Injuries, fatigue and loss of form saw a playmaker watched by Manchester United and Arsenal in recent months frequently appear a shadow of his former self last season.
With Cabaye having no "get out" clause in the five-year agreement he signed in 2011, Ashley could opt to see if PSG or Monaco are willing to pay £25m or even £30m for a player Joe Kinnear, Newcastle's new director of football, has already pledged will definitely "be staying". Yet as Andy Carroll's £35m move to Liverpool proved, every Newcastle player has his price, and PSG's Qatari owners certainly possess the funds to back Blanc.
While Kinnear has repeatedly reiterated the "we won't be selling our best players" mantra, matters are complicated both by Cabaye's loss of form and his rather pointed comments this summer suggesting that a move away from St James' Park rather appealed. He is said to have felt insulted by Kinnear mis-pronouncing his name as "Yohan Kebab" during a recent, notorious, radio interview and interrupted his summer holiday to seek clarification about the incident.
During interviews with French television earlier in June, Cabaye variously spoke warmly of Manchester United, Monaco and PSG. "For the moment I'm at Newcastle," he said. "But you never know what happens in football – I let my agents work for me."
Although, at his best, Cabaye's passing is integral to Newcastle's game and Pardew has aimed to build the team around him, there is a case for moving Moussa Sissoko back into his deep lying central midfield position. Sissoko is best suited to such a role but, largely in order to accommodate Cabaye, was frequently deployed out of position further forward or wide after arriving from Toulouse last January.
Cabaye is one of several Newcastle players whose future looks uncertain. Cheik Tioté – due at crown court on Friday to answer charges relating to possession of a fake Belgian driving licence and a lack of insurance – and Shola Ameobi – interesting Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and clubs in the United Arab Emirates – may also be on the move before the end of August.
Although the much coveted Gabon international Aubameyang has emerged as the club's top attacking target, Pardew is still particularly keen to be reunited with Bent, a forward he briefly managed during his time in charge of Charlton.