Newcastle strengthen French connection


Soccer:Defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has completed a move to Newcastle from Montpellier for an undisclosed fee and he looks sure to be joined by Girondins Bordeaux forward Yoan Gouffran and Nancy full-back Massadio Haidara

France international Yanga-Mbiwa has been heavily linked with a move to Tyneside in the January transfer window, with a fee agreed for the centre-back on Saturday. He agreed a five-and-a-half-year deal this evening to strengthen Newcastle’s backline.

“It is an honour to be able to come to Newcastle United and have the chance to play in the Premier League,” Yanga-Mbiwa told the club’s official website.

The 26-year-old Gouffran, who has scored eight Ligue 1 goals this season, looks set to join him tomorrow after taking to Twitter to confirm the move. "Tomorrow I will be a Newcastle player and I am proud," he wrote.

Newcastle, fifth in the Premier League last season, are 16th this season and stand only two points above the relegation places.

The north-east side have also drafted in Lille and France right back Mathieu Debuchy in the transfer window and Haidara is also poised to join the club's French contingent which already includes midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

Newcastle have been hit by defensive injuries this season and the new arrivals will help cover for the expected exit of captain Fabricio Coloccini who wants to return home to Argentina.

The 23-year-old Yanga-Mbiwa came through the youth ranks with Montpellier and made over 200 appearances in six years with the reigning Ligue 1 champions. But a move to the north-east looked increasingly likely after he told their official website he would relish playing in the Premier League.

After becoming the Magpies’ second signing of the January transfer window — after Debuchy — he added: “Newcastle are one of the biggest clubs in the league, and I’m going to try and give everything I have so that the team can do well. I have experienced a lot of positive things so far in my career and one of those is joining this club.”

The transfer is likely to alleviate some worries Newcastle have over their backline, which has struggled to keep teams at bay in recent months — particularly in the away defeats against Manchester United and Arsenal over the festive period.

Boss Alan Pardew said: “We needed to strengthen the team and bringing in Mapou will give the whole squad a boost. He is precisely the sort of player we’ve been looking to bring to the club. He is a good age for us but has plenty of experience at club and international level.

“Mapou is a talented footballer, good in the air and on the ground and has all the attributes to succeed as a quality defender in the Premier League. He’s a good character too and that will be important for us over the next few months.”

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