McClaren: Newcastle 'can't lose' Moussa Sissoko, wants to 'build team around' 25-year-old

Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren says Newcastle must keep Moussa Sissoko.

Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren has told BBC Sport that he wants to build his team around midfielder Moussa Sissoko.

The French international, 25, arrived on Tyneside in January 2013 having starred with Ligue 1 side Toulouse, and he has largely lived up to his billing.

With 11 goals in 94 games, Magpies fans may want Sissoko to find the back of the net more regularly, but his incredible athletic ability has seen him take over some games during his time in the Premier League.

Those displays have seemingly triggered interest in Sissoko's signature, with the Daily Star reporting that Premier League rivals Liverpool and Manchester City are both interested in signing Sissoko his summer.

However, Magpies boss McClaren has told BBC Sport that he is desperate to keep Sissoko at St. James' Park, even admitting that he wants to build his team around the midfielder.

"We can't lose Moussa, I know there's a lot of interest but he's under contract," said McClaren. "On my first day he walked into my office, a specimen of a man. An absolute presence and a great manner. Very professional and low maintenance. I've said to Lee Charnley, 'wow, we've got to keep this guy'. I want to build a team around him," he added.

Sissoko has the fearsome combination of speed and strength that makes him such a threat whether he's playing out wide or through the middle, with his driving runs earning comparisons to Manchester City star Yaya Toure.

Last season, when Sissoko was on his game, he was superb - but on his off days, the Frenchman was a liability for Newcastle, and McClaren's job will be to make Sissoko's performances more consistent during his time in charge.

That may ramp up interest in Sissoko, but McClaren has to do what is best for his team - and getting the best out of Sissoko would give Newcastle a great chance of achieving a top ten finish.

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