16/07/2014 13:06 BST | Updated 15/09/2014 06:59 BST

Player Focus: Exit of One Remy Paves Way For Another at Newcastle


It's safe to say Newcastle weren't particularly excited by the return of Joe Kinnear in the role of Director of Football last summer. After an infamous radio interview the man that left the club in 2009 after just a four-month stint as manager was appointed to lead the club's transfer dealings.

Kinnear lasted a few months longer in his new role than he did as the club's manager, though Newcastle made just two first team signings in his second spell at the club, both of which were loan deals. The man himself would probably have you believe that he played a crucial part in the Magpies' top half finish last season, given that one of those recruits was Loïc Remy.

The Frenchman on loan from QPR would end the campaign as the team's top scorer by a distance, netting 14 league goals from just 24 starts. The fans will no doubt have wanted to secure his permanent signing, but in truth his success at the club saw that become all the more unlikely.

Newcastle may have lost two of their best players from last season, with Mathieu Debuchy making the switch to Arsenal, but the supporters can feel far more confident about this summer's business already. Daryl Janmaat has been signed as a like-for-like replacement at right-back, while the exit of one Remy has paved the way for the entrance of another, not to mention the prospect of both Siem de Jong and Ayoze linking up with the Toon Army.

It's former Montpellier-man Cabella, however, that is likely to be the real marquee signing for the club this transfer window, with Pardew again making waves across the channel. A French international, drafted into the World Cup squad following injury to former Newcastle target Clément Grenier, the 24-year-old's capture should certainly be considered a coup for the Tynesiders.


A versatile attacking midfielder, Cabella is best deployed as a number 10 but can also play wide in a front three or on either wing, tending to drift to the left when starting from a central position. Pardew will be hoping the playmaker can fill the creative void left by compatriot and former fan favourite Yohan Cabaye, who was excelling in an advanced position prior to his departure for PSG in January. In truth Cabella is more natural in that role, with his France international teammate more adept at pulling the strings from deeper positions.

Cabella is more lightweight but has excellent control and technique and is able to get the better of the defenders with quick feet and direct running. He's a player that takes up very good positions in offensive situations, offering an outlet on the counter but also able to make delayed runs into the box. Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic had more attempts at goal from fast break situations in Ligue 1 last season (5). Given that only Luis Suarez had more attempts on the counter in the Premier League than the outward bound Loïc Remy last season (6), it's a shrewd replacement in that respect.

It's certainly a worrying time for Montpellier, who have been stripped of their strongest parts since a shock Ligue 1 title in 2011/12. Cabella can certainly be added to that list having been the club's best player by a distance last season, with a rating of 7.35 far superior to any teammate. He was the side's top scorer, with 14 goals, and creator, with 5 assists. Had it not been for profligate finishing from his colleagues the latter tally would have been significantly greater.

Only two players played more key passes in France's top tier last season (81) and only that man Ibrahimovic again laid on more clear-cut chances for teammates. Cabella's figure of 14 was equal to that of James Rodríguez, who could yet complete a move in the region of around €90m this summer after a scintillating World Cup showing. It will excite Newcastle fans greatly to know that in Ligue 1 last season, there wasn't a great deal between the two, with Rodríguez securing a marginally better rating from over the course of the campaign (7.41).


Having earned 9 man of the match ratings last season - no player in France was awarded more from WhoScored - his average rating is perhaps a little lower than one might expect. Newcastle fans should witness performances of real quality from Cabella but must also be understanding that a player of his ilk can get lost in some matches. If there's one thing the Frenchman could improve upon it is perhaps his consistency. That said, it's hard to be consistent in a side that are far from it, with the burden weighing heavily on Cabella's shoulders for Montpellier last season.

Though they ended the previous campaign extremely poorly, Newcastle have made significant strides in the transfer market to ensure that they are not in a similar situation again. They appear to have learned from their mistakes to a degree and their eagerness in the window this time around should reap the rewards.

Meanwhile, Cabella's arrival could spell trouble for compatriot Hatem Ben Arfa, whose attitude is clearly questioned by the manager. A player of his quality should shine but without the requisite work rate and desire, talent can sometimes become a secondary requirement. Newcastle fans can be confident that Cabella won't follow the same path.

Speaking of his move to L'Équipe the new arrival stated, "To get to the highest level you have to work very hard and I'm prepared to do that." Music to the ears of the St. James' Park faithful!

How well do you think Cabella will make the step into Premier League football? Let us know in the comments below

All statistics courtesy of where you can find yet more stats and player ratings.