The vultures are looming, with their opening attack resisted, only for the inevitability of increasingly potent offence in future days.
Paris Saint Germain want our crown jewel, apparently so do Manchester United, and the hierarchy on Tyneside seem ill-equipped (or unwilling) to hold onto a player once the valuation they consider reasonable has been met.
When Yohan Cabaye recently blew out 28 candles on his birthday cake, his wish probably involved a grander stage on which to display his aesthetic abilities with a leather sphere, somewhere with the promise that he could ply his trade among the elite of club football.
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So far the only bid of this window has been just north of derisory, circa £14m from the French capital. That offer was rejected out of hand, in the knowledge that it was merely the opening gambit in what promises to be intense negotiation.
Mike Ashley’s dream is not to hold onto his ‘favourite player’, it is to tout his most valuable on pitch asset and create a frenzied bidding war.
There would be a wet patch on the jim-jams of the callous sports retailer if Manchester United get officially involved and force PSG to up the ante, until concluding with a deal akin to James Milner’s £26m transfer to Manchester City – a ludicrously inflated fee.
Cabaye is 28, he’s at the age where if big money is going to come, a deal probably needs to be done within the next two transfer windows.
For most it would be easier to accept our vice-captain plying his trade for Les Parisiens than Les Diables Rouges, although my instinct is that David Moyes will be gagging to replace a host of second-raters he inherited, with a lust for splurging after snapping up Juan Mata for a cool £37.1m.
Still, how do you replace Yohan Cabaye on Tyneside? Remy Cabella is supposedly lined up as a like-for-like, but he doesn’t strike me as having the technical prowess and passing range of our current number four, not yet at least.
This is a pivotal time for Alan Pardew, with Loic Remy seemingly unwilling to pen a permanent deal with the club, Fab Coloccini probably in his final season as a Magpie and Papiss Cisse no longer wanted.
He must be desperate to hear from the potty-mouthed twit in the stands that reinforcements are on the way. Cabella for Cabaye, De Jong for Cisse, Gomis for big Sholes, Alan Armstrong for Remy… Ok, admittedly the last one is a bit of a stretch!
As a present day supporter of Newcastle, it’s best not to get too attached to any player who pulls on the shirt, If they’re half decent and last more than three seasons it’s a bonus, but at any point the owner could decide to cash in and replace with another of Graham Carr’s foreign gems, or Gabriel Obertan.
Carr is only human, not all of these players he recommends are going to suit English football. Replacing Cabaye is not to be taken for granted, the £4.3m signing from Lille is at his absolute peak right now.
It could be argued that with 36 points on the board already and safety virtually assured, it is time to bed in replacements. That would be to sacrifice the season, rather than have an unlikely tilt at the top four.
Whether Mike, Joe and co decide that’s the way to go none of us know for sure, although we can make an educated guess. Only the next few days will tell us for certain.
If Cabaye’s epitaph was his virtuoso display at West Ham, then the crestfallen look on Sam Allardyce’s annoying floppy chops was a very pleasant parting gift, that at least is some comfort as our best player heads into the sunset – hopefully not sparking a mass exodus on his way.