Monday, August 06, 2007

Hola Jose

In a move which will presumably put an end to Charles N'Zogbia being forced to play out of position and hopefully bar Celestine Babayaro from displaying his own unique brand of commitment to the first team cause, Fat Sam has managed to secure the signature of Villareal's highly-rated Spanish U21 left-back Jose Enrique. Nevertheless, at £6.5m the deal represents something of a gamble, not least because of the ever-present danger of him turning out to be as successful as the last Spaniard we signed, one Albert Luque...

Enrique is not only young but he also has no experience whatsoever of the Premiership - unlike our other rumoured target Leighton Baines, who now looks set to join boyhood favourites Everton for slightly less. Time will tell whether we got the best deal.

Meanwhile, our other recent multi-million pound recruit Alan Smith got his Newcastle career off to a flying start yesterday with the only goal in our friendly win at home to Sampdoria. Smith, who headed in Geremi's corner on 59 minutes, was spearheading an attack comprised of his old Leeds teammates James Milner and Mark Viduka, the latter also making his first appearance for us. Shola Ameobi, Nicky Butt and Steven Taylor all returned from injury without any adverse effects, but Shay Given tweaked that pesky groin again to be replaced by Steve Harper - hardly good timing, what with Tim Krul busy making a victorious debut on loan for Falkirk against Gretna (and keeping a clean sheet in the process).

Fat Sam presumably wasn't too chuffed by that news, but he certainly wasn't happy about the collapse of Kieron Dyer's move to the Hammers, claiming "West Ham are not as upset as we are about West Ham". All rather baffling, as we were the ones who scuppered the deal - a fee had apparently been agreed until we suddenly decided to shift the goalposts and hoik the price up by another £2m. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Allardyce's anger is partly because he wanted to see the back of Dyer and is frustrated at having seen the deal wrecked by the new chairman stepping in to demand a higher fee.

Alan Curbishley has commented "It's the first time I can remember anything like this happening", "this" being the transfer of a Newcastle player collapsing "at the 11th hour, the 11th-and-a-half hour". Some of us have slightly longer memories than you, Curbs - we did the same thing to Villa last season with Milner. Let's just hope that our latest decision to do the dirty on a bunch of claret and blues pays off as well as it did the first time.


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