It has not been a good weekend over for Newcastle United, despite the win at Hull City. Their manager faces a 10-game stadium ban after head-butting an opposition player, and now doubt has been placed on the possibility of them signing one of their summer targets.
The ever outspoken Montpellier president Louis Nicollin has had a swipe at the North-East club, sarcastically commenting that he wouldn't let Remy Cabella move just anywhere.
Speaking to french radio station RMC, Nicollin made it known that it wouldn't just be the transfer fee that decided the future of his star player.
"We promised to let him leave. But we will try to make sure that he doesn't just go anywhere. Newcastle? They're really good... In England, you have to go to Arsenal, Manchester. If Newcastle offer me 20 million, I might go as far as not selling him. He must find a good French club. Monaco, PSG, who knows."
He then had a pop that Newcastle was "hardly Eldorado", citing the case of his former player Mapou Yanga-M'Biwa. Only 12 months ago, the North-East welcomed a whole host of French players during the January transfer window, and it looks like the love affair could be over. Yohan Cabaye left this January, and others could follow suit in the summer window, putting a seed of doubt into the ability to attract the best and brightest of Ligue 1 to St James' Park.
Nicollin is very well known to English football fans as being a bit of a character, he had plenty to say about Yanga-M'Biwa's move north, and in the past has been, not just critical, but difficult to deal with.
Only last month his son Laurent was quoted saying that a deal had been done with Newcastle to move Cabella in the summer and not in January, his father was quick to come out and rubbish that news. "LouLou" is always outspoken, always makes it difficult to get a cut-price deal and will always make chairman work for any potential deal.
At the end of the day he is just trying to get the best price possible for a player that is the jewel in the Montpellier crown at the moment.
Cabella has scored ten goals already this season, his best return to date. He also has five assists in a side that struggled for the first half of the campaign. He is a superb talent, a dangerous and trick playmaker that has plenty of skill up his sleeve.
At only 23-years-old, his next move is a very important one, and will play a huge part of his development. Any playmaker thinking of moving to Newcastle will look at the situation with Hatem Ben Arfa and be wary that a similar path could be followed by moving to Alan Pardew's side. After a bright start, the former France international has stalled and will look to move in the summer.
It is unlikely that Newcastle United will have £20 million to spend on one player in the summer, and it is a risk for a player yet to play too many games at the highest level.
Despite Cabella's superb talent and untapped potential, it could be that Nicollin's latest outburst actually does Pardew's side a favour. Newcastle is not the kind of team that can spend that sort of money on an untested player, no matter if he is the type of player the fans are desperate for. Cabella's next move will be very interesting, and it would be a surprise if he joined his former teammate at Newcastle.
images:© Andrew Gibney